Here is a family story (one that I have recounted, in its simplicity, over and over again over the past 20 years):
One afternoon, at about dinner time, I was in the kitchen cooking dinner, and my eldest son, then about five, was yelling down the hall from his room, “Mommy, come quick!”
I said, as all moms cooking dinner do, “Just a minute… I’m doing something.”
He kept urging me to come down the hall, and, growing more and more exasperated (because he wasn’t LISTENING to what I was saying), I finally said, “I’m trying to get dinner ready! I’ll be there in five minutes!”
Softly, I heard him say, “In five minutes, it will be too late…”
Wow. Now THAT caught my attention. So, I put down my spoon, and walked down the hall, to see him propped up in his west-facing bedroom window, looking out at the most spectacular sunset I think I have ever seen. Who wasn’t listening to WHOM?
You could analyze that little vignette a million different ways: how smart my son was for realizing, at such a young age, that sunsets don’t last a long time; how sensitive he was for stopping in his day for 15 seconds to watch the glory God puts there, for free; how rude I was for putting his things off, me the big adult, and he, the little child, as if adult stuff was ALWAYS more important…
But, over and over throughout the years, I go back to that little stop-action moment in our lives together, just the two of us, when he and I sat by his window, for all of a minute or so, silently watching the sun paint the sky as it set. An ordinary day among other ordinary days. But an unforgettable moment.
Flash forward a little bit. One Wednesday morning (for you remember these things), 17 years later, I awoke from anesthesia to have a surgical nurse tell me, in an ironically understated way, “Kim, we found a little bit of cancer.” Now THAT’S a show-stopper, alright.
In that moment, the first thing I thought about was not “Woe is me,” or “I don’t want to die.” It was, “My family is going to be devastated.” I thought about canoeing, and fishing with the “big boys” when they were little. Of the way my eldest son called milk, “lup” when he was a baby, and my middle son just smiled and let the eldest talk for him. I thought of my baby, then five, and how I hadn’t really got to know him yet. I thought of the way the grandbabies scream out, “NANA!!!” and run at me, all at once, when I see them. I thought of the jokes that my husband cracks, with his eyes giving away the sadness and worry in his heart. I thought about sunrises, and sunsets, hot days and cold ones. And I couldn’t even think about my parents at that moment.
Fast forward another 3 years. I recently had a bit of gallbladder pain, and, because I’m “special” (read, a cancer-survivor), they always give me the “premium examination” when I go to the doctor. Just in case. So they ultrasounded (is that a verb?) all my insides, and declared that the only things they found in me, this time, were the parts that God put there. So this is very good. And because God is my friend, I would expect nothing less.
Here’s the blessing of cancer (yes, there is at least ONE!): I don’t look at anything in my life the same anymore. Because, when you have a crisis, you quickly realize where your priorities really are, and do some sudden realignment in your way of thinking, and acting. All that stuff I thought about, in those two minutes after the nurse came in? THOSE were my priorities. Because, in the end, life is just a fleeting moment.
I’m not letting it pass me by.
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