My girls have been helping with chores around the house and have really taken to their “jobs.” Taylor, 11, helps with the glass, vacuuming, and dusting while Cate, my six year old has been emptying the dishwasher, folding laundry, and putting it away. She stacks the spoons backwards, and can’t reach all the cupboards, so often we work together – her handing me the cups and bowls and me letting her stack the Tupperware. With laundry, she very carefully tries to match up the edges of towels and fold the t-shirts just right, her eyes squinting and her tiny fingers taking their awkward time… though they are never quite folded properly. It’s adorable.
While cleaning my kitchen this morning, I opened a drawer to get something and saw several towels all folded haphazardly and randomly stacked in the drawer. Nestled on top of one of the towels, totally out of place, was a mixing whisk. I can imagine my little Cate setting it there with great care and deliberation after putting the towels away Friday. I can see her smile as she does it. Normally, I would smirk, roll my eyes a little, and put it back where it belongs, where she knows it belongs, but today it was different. This time, my heart caught in my throat… I really missed her. This weekend is a weekend my daughters are with their dad and so they’ve been gone for the last day and a half.
I’ll never be fully used to weekends away from my daughters. I always miss them and despite trying to keep busy, the hours just feel a little emptier without them. This particular week and weekend have been rough, and their being gone stung even more. And now, in my kitchen looking at this silly whisk, my little girl seemed so far away.
So often I’m worrying about the next thing, what happens after this thing, after this moment and I realize how much I can be missing that’s right in front of me. Worse than wanting something that has yet to happen is regretting something that has already passed. That’s a pain that cannot ever be fully overcome. It lingers.
So, this time, I’m done waiting for what might be coming, what I want to happen, and I’ll just be here. I’ll be in the now. The lesson this time for me is about not withholding anymore… words, embraces, or opportunities. Don’t leave the words unsaid. Don’t let the memory of fear of what has happened or what could happen keep you from living your now. Don’t let yourself stay in a dark place either, don’t settle for something less than you deserve. Change things now. Right now. This time. There is no other.
When my girls come home I’ll hug and kiss them, like I always do, but I may stay a little longer in the embrace, grateful for this moment with them. I will fully feel their arms around my neck, the smell of their shampoo, and the sound of their giggles in my ear. I’ll close my eyes and let myself completely be theirs. I’ll keep living for the “this times” that are given to me. Not because it might be the last time either, but because it’s this time and this time is what we have and it will be over before we know it. We are all a long string of “this times” that form the timeline of our life, the memories of our storied past, and the foundation for what lies ahead. So don’t let it slip by. This time is important every time.
[Writer’s Note: This week a wonderful wife and mother from my community was taken far too soon from the people who love her. Her name was Andrea Kruger. To donate to the Andrea Kruger Memorial fund drop a check made out to “Andrea Kruger Memorial Fund” at any Union Bank and Trust in Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska. You may also transfer funds to the account by calling 800-297-2837.]