I got this lovely message a week ago Friday from my nephew/godson, Cooper: "Hey, Aunt Sara. Umm, I was just thinking maybe we'd pop over tomorrow... you know stop by, chat, play, whatever. Let me know what you think. Love you. Bye."
After I stopped chuckling at the fact that he was trying to be all funny and nonchalant with his attempt at sounding all grown up and sly, I called him back to see how exactly he planned on managing this visit when he lives five hours away.
Turns out, he wasn't pulling my leg. Just teasing me with information he knew and I didn't. :)
My brother Hoody (Steve) had decided to make a quick trip home to my parents over the weekend with Cooper and Avery... which is lovely for my parents but even better for me because they pass right by my house on the way.
In they came bearing McDonald's french fries, accompanied with plenty of hugs and smiles and stories to tell. They absolutely steal my heart every time I lay eyes on them. They were here for about 2 hours, and I honestly was so focused on catching every word they said and looking at those faces that change before my eyes that (if you know me you know how insane what I'm about to say is):
I forgot to get out my camera.
I'm not kidding. They left and I about kicked myself. But then I figured if I had remembered and taken the time to mess with the camera, I probably would have missed a joke or smart-aleck comment ... and I decided to be thankful for forgotten photos and savored moments.
The day after they visited (Sunday) all the craziness with my pain and my non-working arms started in. Then on Wednesday night my parents came to see me before they hit my brother Jerry's house for the holiday. We had supper and watched a movie and generally lounged around lazily. And on Friday my sister Laura snuck away from the festivities for a few hours and drove over to spend the afternoon with her little sister. I couldn't have asked for a more fitting Thanksgiving surprise if I tried.
I unexpectedly got to see more family in the last week and a half than I could have hoped to see at both Thanksgiving and Christmas combined. It couldn't have worked out better if we had planned it all... and I loved each moment.
As I sat talking with Laura about her amazing kids, I realized how incredibly grateful I am that I savored my moments when I had them. Back when I was able-bodied I was the youngest, the single one, the one with no attachments... it was easy for me travel around and keep in touch with everyone. If one of my siblings went home for the weekend with their kids, I went home too so I could see them. I traveled around to see a piano recital or a soccer game or simply hang out. I couldn't get enough of the little people who had come into our family.
Practicing our smiles before family photos were being taken (2001).
Getting all the sillies out of us before we went in front of the camera.
I had no idea that someday all of that wouldn't be possible anymore. I think my not traveling is probably easier for me to accept than it is for others because I live every day with how I feel... and I know that nothing could keep me away from all of those moments except the inevitable. And the inevitable is here.
I didn't know I was doing something smart back then. I wasn't living my life thinking "what if." I was just doing what I couldn't help but do: love the people in my family. Ironically, the holidays aren't really that hard for me to miss out on. It's just a holiday. What I hate missing are the sports/games, the first communions, the graduations, the recitals. I miss the lazy weekends with nothing on the schedule so we can play a game of marbles or make up stories before bed or watch Harry Potter movies back-to-back while eating all the ice cream in the house after the grown ups have gone to sleep.
I don't like missing those things now, but people... I am SO grateful I didn't miss them back then. Because I have savored moments that are irreplaceable to me. I've messed up things in my life, but this is one area for which I am thankful to have understood it's importance.
I know life is busy. I know the holidays overwhelm us ... there are presents to buy and parties to go to and school plays to attend. There's rushing around and busyness and stress. But there are also movies to be watched and hot chocolate to be drank. There are games to be played and stories to be read and time to play in the snow. Don't worry too much about it all being perfect -- don't worry about capturing the perfect moments. Just remember to savor them.
Savor your moments.