“There never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do, once you find them. I’ve looked around enough to know that you’re the one I want to go through time with…” Jim Croce’s last love song still brings tears to my eyes whenever I hear it, the truth of it becoming clearer with each passing year.
Almost every great love story shares this common theme of the brevity of love, whether it lasts for a year or fifty years. The moment you become deeply grateful for the gift of love you share with another person, the more fragile and ethereal the love becomes. This year’s Valentine’s Day celebration was a personal testimonial to that experience; our cards to each other this year a testimony to all the years we have spent learning to love each other, and the grace, strength and courage that the work of staying bestows.
I am reminded often lately of “the tender intervals in this perpetual departure.” A recent news story about a tragic accident resulting in the untimely deaths of young musicians in our community has awoken us again to the fact that we never know the last day we will have with someone, the last smile we will share, the last hug. Even without tragedy, I bear witness to this impermanence which is the essence of life. The cliche of seasons passing and time slipping away has never felt as real as it does now, as I help my oldest child prepare to begin a life on her own.
I wonder how I could have missed enough small moments to have this rushing sensation of “Where did the time go?” Where are the days that seemed to stretch out endlessly in front of me, the periods of time when life would just drag on? They are gone now. As I have finally realized the brevity of it all, I could just kick myself for the time that I wasted on petty small arguments, impatience over minor incidents, and all the other dozens of ways that we give away our most precious gift; of the time we are given to love one another.
What if today were the last day you had to speak with someone you love? What would you say? This is a good exercise to try sometime when you think you can’t stand another minute of whatever it is that is driving you crazy with another person: actually take a minute and try to imagine your life without it. I have practiced this often, maybe too often, because sometimes even as I am leaving those I love most for a short time, I can often get teary imagining what I didn’t just tell them.
I don’t want to lose any more of the small moments and so I try not to get distracted by the noise and the clutter of our busy life. I work to stay focused on what is essential and I am pretty sure that the only thing that fits in that category is love. Each time I leave them I say “I love you” in as many different ways as I can imagine. Just in case, I want it to be the last thing they will remember from me. Although I don’t know for sure, I believe that at the last moments of our life we remember the love. Don’t take the time you have for granted, love as much as you can while you can.