This post was originally shared on January 26, 2015.
While I had planned on writing every day of my vacation, I've struggled to prioritize my time with writing over the past few days. This is not an apology, for the results of a few days off gave me the idea for this post. As some know, I've taken these few days and traveled back to my roots, out of the city, to spend some quality time with my parents and family in Connecticut. With both of my parents retired, living a busier schedule than I think they did while working and raising me, finding time where we can just hang out and be a family is difficult. Plus, corresponding a weekend with my parents AND godchildren and their family is beyond impossible. So, when I can, I pack my bags, hurry to Grand Central, and make my way up, out of the city and into a land that smells of pine trees, dirt, coffee, fresh air and, most importantly, home.
With mornings that aren't rushed to get up, the luring smell of fresh coffee drew me out of my childhood bedroom just after 8:30 and down the chilly, hard-wood steps of the front hall to my favorite spot in the house. A cozy, well worn, arm chair in the middle of the kitchen, a spot to relax with a book and a steaming mug while watching the world outside slowly arise. Out the kitchen windows, the yard looks eerily quiet and grey without it's usual green abundance, but the sun's pinkish glow peaks just over the trees and fills the room. Both in our "jammies", my mother, who's stationed at her usual kitchen chair by the window, and I begin chatting about our lives apart. From friends to work, knit club, church and relationships, I'm certain, if given enough time and coffee, of course, we could solve world peace in those spots. After 26 years of parenting, my mother's wisdom has been a resounding voice in my head, as if she anticipates my next question and already knows how to guide me forward. Whatever concerns about the future I have, she acknowledges, reassures and refocus' me on the constants that exist in my life. In those moments over coffee, any worry about my life, seem to just drift away as actualization appears. In those moments over coffee, I am safe, confident, and sure.
On Friday, I found myself in a very familiar position, bundled up head to toe, skis and boots strapped to my feet and my dad sitting on my left in a chairlift headed up a mountain. Just like all the other thousand "chairlift" talks we've had over the past 24 years of my ski career, it wouldn't have been the same until I heard,
"Well Margaret, you have to just count your lucky stars. Live today and thats it. Don't worry about tomorrow."
He, without knowledge of my conversation with my mother just a day earlier, seemed to make it a point to be in the NOW, to evaluate what brought me to this moment, to this mountain, to this chairlift. To understand that it's a blessing to wake up and make use of the day, doing something I love and to appreciate the opportunity to take the time to enjoy the life I have.
I hear stories about folks who are pressured by their parents into choosing a path to then realize later on that it was never what they wanted. They spend years trying to be someone they aren't to gain the respect from people who never took the time to really understand who they were, time that could have been used doing something they loved, time understanding each other and growing together. I'm lucky, and have those stars to thank, that I have parents who never did that. Most say they have supportive parents, but I don't know how they could top mine. While giving me guidance and coaching me along the way, they've stood by and allowed me to mature into who I am, never once suggesting that my dreams were too big, or too much for me to handle. Over time, they have helped mold and shape me to be a free-spirit, confident of my beliefs, kind-hearted and capable of discovering the world for myself. In the kitchen over coffee, sitting frozen on a chairlift, or even over the phone, the down time is never wasted.
"I wish we had more time."
A quote many say after a loss of a loved one or an end to a relationship just seems to devalue the time that was spent together. As a society, we focus on what could have, should have, would have happened if we only had that extra moment to say everything we wanted to say. But do we use that time wisely? No, it's easier to spend years wondering how things would have been different given extra time, instead of embracing the moments we have in front of us.
I've learned the value of time from my parents. Among other life lessons, I've learned that it's not about how much time you've waited, but it's about how you chose to use it. Years from now, many, many years, when I am so driven by grief that someone has to pull my body off of their graves, remind me of this post. I'll want to remember that in the time that we had, we talked, we skied, we played, we sang, we laughed, we loved, we enjoyed it together, we were a family. That in the time we were given, we gave it our all.