Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Do It Before It's Too Late


“Live as if you were to die tomorrow.”

Mahatma Gandhi

One night I had an epiphany.

My dear husband and I had bickered that evening about something so trivial, I don’t even remember it. We had made a pact once that we wouldn’t go to bed angry, but that night we didn’t kiss and make up. He went to bed and I stayed in my sunroom, reading a good book.

When I went to bed, I was still a little cranky with him, but he was fast asleep. I lay there on my side of the bed, chewing on what had been said between us. I even made it a point to keep my arms and legs to myself.

Then the thought came to mind: What if he were to die tomorrow and this is the last night I get to spend with him?

So I lay there for a little while, imagining my life without him. The more I thought, the less I cared about the thing that had annoyed me. In fact, I stopped being annoyed, period. I did what I’ve been taught to do and asked myself, how important is it? The thing we had argued about had no importance at all in the bigger picture. My perspective was entirely restored to sanity.

So I hugged him in his sleep and let everything go except love. Nothing else was important.

I wrote this poem the other day when I remembered that epiphany in the night. It’s been a number of years ago now, but I haven’t forgotten the lesson I learned. Death (or the idea of it) issues us a challenge, said author and speaker Leo Buscaglia. “It tells us not to waste time...it tells us to tell each other right now that we love each other.”



Tulips Grow After You Pick Them

Their stems arc and lengthen
as they reach for the roof
the only flower that thrives
in captivity, or maybe not
maybe they do not grow
but reach back, longing for
the bulb the root the earth
where their hearts lie

as I lie here at night longing
for the touch of your legs
twining with mine
which I never told you
while I had you here
and now it breaks my
heart.

28 comments:

Shadow said...

you are quite right. the trivial things that don't really matter tend to rule our lives. whilst the important things are shoved on the back burner... great reminder, i thank you!

Karen said...

I love the image of the tulip reaching back for its bulb. That's very visual and thought-provoking.

Beth said...

I love this post and the poem! Like you, I've had that epiphany. A couple of years ago, right after the day started cranking, I got a phone call from a distraught parent. Her child had died during the night (she had sickle cell anemia - but had only had a cold). It was one of the darkest days of my life as this had been one of my babies.

After experiencing a sudden loss of a child (and one who didn't appear that sick), it drove home the point that none of us are guaranteed another day.

the walking man said...

Understanding this singular thing is the way to a durable union.

Brian Miller said...

for one thing...i am just glad i am not the only one that thinks this way...scary stuff and then you realise the trivial nature of what we get mad over and...really wonderful verse. hope you have a great wenesday!

Brian Miller said...

alright, i hope you get that last comment but it cut out...any way, i have been there and it gets my heart beating fast and then to think what made us upset in the first place and how trivial it probably was...

Secretia said...

I like the way you expressed that, and it was good hearing that you let everything go except love.
Cling to him, cling to love!

Secretia

Tracy said...

Very nice poem and another thoughtful post. None of us really like to think about death, but there are times when it helps us remember what's important in life.

Scott said...

an important post...

ahh good old Leo :-)

what an awesome poem...

Rayna M. Iyer said...

So true. The trivial things don't matter, but they are the ones we spend most time brooding about.
And I never knew Gandhi said that.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I can't bear the thought of it. As usual as amazing poem.

Magpie said...

This post makes me think of the song, The Living Years by Mike and the Mechanics (oldie, but goodie). I listen to it on my ipod everyday when I take my walk. To remind me to temper my thoughts and words with my mother when I become frustrated.

"Crumpled bits of paper
Filled with imperfect thoughts
Stilted conversations
I'm afraid that's all we've got

You say you just don't see it
He says it's perfect sense
You just can't get agreement
In this present tense
We all talk a different language
Talkin' in defense.

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It's too late when we die
To admit we don't see eye to eye."

Sherry said...

Beautiful post - thanks for the reminder! Everything begins and ends with Love...

nsiyer said...

Simply amazing and fantastic. I loved the thought and the impact. Great and thanks for writing so well.

Patty said...

I am really enjoying your thoughtful posts this week, and thank you for taking the time to send me an e-mail the other day, you are such a sweetheart!

TechnoBabe said...

Thank you for describing the spat and what you were thinking by not going to bed with your husband that night and then your thoughts when you did go to bed later. We all have times like this, we have to walk through the temporary insanity and get to the reality. You did a good job of relating this in your post. I think that sometimes too. I want my life with my husband to be so full of memories that if he died I would bring the memories out as I would want to and smile and laugh and cry at the depth of the everyday life we have together.

LadyFi said...

You're so right! WE should live all our moments as if they were our last.

Titanium said...

How right you are. If we treasure each moment, keeping this perspective intact no matter what the day brings, we love more completely.

Syd said...

Very touching post. It is so true what you write about not going to bed angry, yet I spent many nights too angry to sleep. I would lie next to her and feel my heart breaking from all the pain. I now truly believe that the petty irritations are just not important. I have learned to let those go.

lakeviewer said...

Marriage is always about compromising, forgiving and starting over. You caught it beautifully here.

Monkey Man said...

even the smallest of resentments are like taking poison and expecting the other preson to die. It does us no good. Thanks for the reality check.

Nezzy said...

You are so right Sister, we let all those little quirks and things upset us and lose sight of the big picture. Your Tulip poem touched my heart. Thanks!!!

You have yourself a wonderfully blessed day!!!

e said...

You are so right but what you said doesn't just apply to spouses...Loved the tulip poem!

Susan said...

This was a great piece. I know how prescious life is and to not take a moment for granted. I tell those who have my love as often as I can. You never know if it is your last chance.

Prayer Girl said...

How important are these things that can stand between those we love and us? Almost always - not important at all.

A beautiful poem. Thank you.

PG

Nessa said...

This is such a hard concept to work with but good to remember when caught up in trivial slights.

Sean the Vampire

Kristin H. said...

Breathtaking. I love it.

Teri and the cats of Furrydance said...

Oh yes, losing Mike certainly brought that home for me, but still I have trouble keeping that in mind with my day to day interactions with people...thanks for the reminder...

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