“We’re on borrowed time as it is”…As many of you know by now, my mom used to say this to me on an almost daily basis. How true, but I guess I think about it more philosophically than realistically. We are, in fact, on borrowed time. I was really thinking about this last night as I was driving home from work. For some reason I was having a Mom day, which means I can’t get her out of my mind and usually I’m a little bit more fragile than other days. I was thinking about how much I would love to see her just one last time. What I wouldn’t give for a little more time with her. A whole day…an hour…a half an hour. But what would I say? I’ve joked with people for the past three and half years since she’s passed away that if she came back for a day, we would hug and cry and laugh for the first two hours but then we would probably be bitching at each other again. If you knew us together, you know this to be true. We were like Italian alcoholics in recovery, downing coffee and screaming one second and crying and saying ‘I love you’ the next. It was insanity.
I was thinking about how many clients have told me how much they wish they could spend just one more day with a loved one who had passed away. The funny thing is, we never think about this on the days that we DO have time to spend with our loved ones. Honestly, how many days have you spent with your husband, best friend, mother or even your dog where you appreciate every second, every moment of the day. Even just a half an hour where you think to yourself, “I really appreciate this person. I love them so much and I am so present in this moment I am spending with them.” Don’t even think about it because the chances are you’ve haven’t. Most of us can’t conceptualize losing someone until they’re terminally ill or have passed away. It is only in those moments when we say we wish we could have them back to spend precious time. Oh, the things we’d say and do.
Why aren’t we doing those things now?
And further more, we grieve all of those dreams we wish our loved ones would have achieved. Why aren’t we pursing our own dreams on an intense level every day. In the end, we’re the only ones who can make them happen.
My mom had several dreams. She wanted to be a costume designer in Hollywood for epic films like Gone with the Wind. She adored the designer Edith Head who did all of the costumes for the Hitchcock movies and she dreamed of following in her path. She also wanted to be an actress or a writer. I have since found over 30 journals and an entirely completed manuscript. So she was, in fact, a writer. She was just never published. I do have the copy of her rejection letter from Robert Bly, the poet laureate of Minnesota, for his literary magazine. She always believed someday she’d win an Oscar and would talk about how she played the main character in The Bad Seed her freshman year of college at Indiana University. She was really going places. But most of all, she wanted to be a criminal trial attorney, living on a houseboat in San Fransisco harbor. She’d say, “don’t you think I would have made an amazing trial attorney?” And everyone would just stare like she was crazy, imagining Bobbie Monn in court, the judge unable to shut her up or pull her hands from the neck of a rapist…or Republican.
She never accomplished these things. I’m not sure she ever would have even if she lived to be 104. Fear kept her stuck in place. Fear keeps me stuck in place. Fear of success. Fear of failure. Fear of commitment. Fear of the unknown. Maybe it’s just how I’m programmed that throws those walls up in front of me, but I think that fear harnesses my thoughts of “I wish I had one more day” instead of “today I will set out to accomplish everything I dream of and spend the time with the people who mean the most!” I remember while my co-worker’s father was terminally ill she beat herself up because she wasn’t visiting him regularly because of her demanding work schedule. Towards the end a friend told her, “Years from now, you won’t look back on this situation and wish you had worked more.” God…ain’t that the truth!
Take time today to really enjoy the day. Smell the air. Drink some really good coffee. Enjoy the freshness of a glass of water only the way it tastes, icy cold, first thing in the morning. Smile. Dance down the street. Be unafraid. Jam your music and sing at the top of your lungs, even if it’s Do Re Mi from The Sound of Music. No one cares! Have an adult lemonade stand. Start writing that book you always wanted to write. Or start reading the book that has been sitting next to your bed for months. Look up casting agents in Hollywood. Put your pictures up on Model Mayhem. Take some chances. Have great sex with your partner. Do the whip cream and chocolate strawberry’s you’ve been talking about forever. Stay up late watching a scary movie in bed. Tell old memories to friends. Make new ones. Eat lunch somewhere you’ve never eaten before. Eat dinner somewhere you’ve never eaten before. Get a slushy and mix the flavors. Buy a children’s book and read it to your dog. Take a walk. Take a run. Buy a bike! I did…just to ride around the neighborhood and say hi to my neighbors. Enjoy today…because you could be gone tomorrow…or someone you love could be gone tomorrow. We only have a limited amount of days here and no one knows how many.
At the end my mom looked at me and said, “It’s not the things you did that you regret. It’s the things you didn’t do.” She was so right! And somewhere up there, I believe, she’s still dancing with an umbrella to Singing in the Rain, kicking at puddles on her front porch, splashing raindrops of dreams and opportunities for all of us down here….just smiling and smiling…because we’re on borrowed time as it is!