It has been a strange few weeks. My husband turned 60 on the 12th of March and that was the beginning. It kind of freaks me out to think that I am married to a sixty year old man (after all, in my head I’m still twenty five). Not to mention how much it is freaking him out to realize his age. Several days later I had a birthday, which was really no big deal (it was not a “milestone” and I’m in my early fifties).
But still, it was another year…
My brother in Seattle called to wish me “Happy Birthday” and I quickly sensed that something was not right with him. This brother has several challenging issues in his life that have been wearing heavily on him for the last few years and I could now hear that in his voice. I tried to be encouraging. What else could I do? I seriously considered getting on a plane.
The next day I was sitting at a light waiting to turn left. As I was glancing around, I noticed a guy walking on the opposite side of the street. I had to do a double take, it was my other brother. Ordinarily that wouldn’t be so weird except that I haven’t seen this brother in over ten years. I didn’t know what to do. A decent person would stop, right? Suffice to say that I must not be that person, because I didn’t stop. The thing is, I didn’t know what I would say to him, there is a lot of negative history between us.
On Monday of the next week I got an email announcement at work that one of our employees had passed away. Sadly, this young woman left behind a husband & three children. It was shocking to me that this woman had worked one floor below me for several years and I didn’t even know who she was. It got me thinking about life & death and what we do in between. How was I spending my time? Did my family know how much I loved them? What about those brothers? What to do…
The next two days came, two more emails, two more deaths. The last one was especially upsetting. The person who died was the husband of another co-worker. This co-worker is one of those rare people who seem to give 110% all the time. She is eternally cheerful, excessively helpful, hard working and sweet natured. And yet, when I see her number on my caller ID, I groan. Maybe it’s because her attention to detail is almost obsessive, maybe it’s because secretly I’m suspicious of people who bend over backwards to please others or MAYBE it’s because all of those great qualities that she exudes reflect back to me all of my worst traits – cynicism, critical nature, selfishness. Quite simply, I have not been nearly as kind to this woman as I should have been. Now she has been dealt a terrible tragedy. I felt ashamed. Again, I thought about life & death and what we do in between and I was grateful to believe I still have a conscience.
I see now that every day we are tested. Every day there is another challenge, another blessing, perhaps another disappointment. If I am lucky and paying attention, I will have the opportunity to think before I speak or act, before I say or do something that will have a negative effect on another person.
Somebody told me a long time ago that I can start my day over at any time. Some days I start over three or four times. Thank goodness today wasn’t one of those days.