It was a book I loved, a good read that tugged tugged tugged at me until it pulled me all the way under. I was so caught up in the story, in fact, I abandoned my own writer’s habit of highlighting the superb passages, accepting for once they’d still be there the next time I felt the compulsive need to diagram a well written sentence.
That is to say this little line came at me like an arrow shot straight at my wide open reader’s heart.
She was grateful life could be long.
It pierced, this line, and lodged there.
She was grateful life could be long.
There are so many lives inside of us, I believe, different lives to be lived.
Perhaps it is middle age that has me focused so squarely on this notion. We move from one to the next without even noticing, teenager to college student to professional to spouse to parent to—well, you know, because you’ve been there. Not noticing because somehow, in the midst of it, you need every bit of attention to simply make it from morning alarm to bedtime collapse, cramming as much studying and working and feeding and cleaning and carpooling as you can, in between.
Pace yourself I tell her, this sweet daughter of mine, this college sophomore. The year is long. But at 20 she gobbles it up, living completely in the moment, never caring that tomorrow is another day. Who can blame her? This life is new, new to all these young people experiencing the surprising colors and textures of an expanding existence. They don’t yet know the virtue of patience—a gift they haven’t yet received—a gift given later in life to enable us to navigate a landscape that changes so dramatically over time.
What will you do I asked my friend Debbie, a bright light in this world who was three days into retirement. What life will you live now?
I wrote my mother’s obituary, a fact that still surprises me. I look back at those first hours after her death and see our emotions pooling in waves, moving son to son, daughter-in-law to grandchild, grandchild to aunt. We were raw and splintered, all of us were, desperately needing a little time to process, to think through, to absorb the grief at least enough to regain some footing. But there were decisions to make, proper decisions, decisions that needed to be made well.
And so they asked me to do it, my brothers, to write this accounting of her life from an insider’s view. But I struggled mightily, let me tell you, eventually accepting the reality that I couldn’t compose a single decent sentence unless I moved further out, looked at her life from a distance.
And there I saw them all, forming in front of me like acts in a play, an epic novel unfolding chapter by chapter. She had lived not one long life, but a thousand, changing day to day, decade to decade.
Patience is the greatest of gifts, I believe. Patience makes time malleable. It lengthens days and rewards us with seasons. It allows for love, real and rooted and slow-growing. It accommodates change. It tolerates mistakes. And it makes room for forgiveness, vast and deep, forgiveness that brings healing and calm and peace. Forgiveness that lets us move forward into our next moment, our next day, our next life, filled with excitement and possibility.
She was grateful life could be long, novelist Laura Moriarity writes of Cora Carlisle, an unlikely Jazz Age heroine in The Chaperone.
Yes, I say in thanksgiving. Yes.
Why do I always wait so long to catch up on this beautiful blog?? Thank you, Cathy.
Patience. Love. Wisdom. Life. You said it all so eloquently. As usual.
Thank you, Barb!
Thanks for this.
Thank you, my friend.
This book is next on my list — thank you. Your words couldn’t be more true. This is a subject I’ve given a lot of thought myself. It’s amazing how many lives we can live at once and how many lives we’ve lived. Each life is stronger and changed from the life forces of lives gone by. No doubt about it.
Yes, yes, yes. Thanks for commenting, Jenn.
I just ordered the free sample for me Kindle. I’m going to give it a try.
Rosie — Do let me know what you think!