Today, millions are mourning the death of the passengers aboard the helicopter carrying basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his 13 year-old daughter.
The response seems right in line with any shocking news: Life. Is. Short. Live each day to its fullest. Tell those you love that you love them. Apologize before it’s too late. Don’t take today for granted.
But what does that truly look like for people around the world?
The thoughts are moving but the reality of taking my dream vacation today is unreachable.
So, now what?
I crawled into my attic to retrieve the mementos I’ve saved in my lifetime, curious as to what I considered important.
And, you know what I found?
Pages and pages of what I’ve written since I could write.
Thousands of prints.
Meaningless to few others than myself, but invaluable to me.
It begs the questions:
What do you treasure?
What are you going to do with it?
What do we do
in our daily life
that is bigger than ourself?
It’s a little window of time.
Filled with excitement, mixed with worry, mixed with wonder.
Waiting at the airport.
Waiting for the call.
Waiting for the kiss.
Waiting for the letter.
Waiting for the pass.
Waiting for the decision.
Waiting for the ring.
Waiting for Santa.
Waiting for the next contraction.
Waiting for the fish.
Waiting to begin the journey.
And then . . .
and then. . . .
Until the waiting begins again.
The holidays are here and with it a storm of emotions.
Joy, anticipation, dread, and resentment all in the same room mixed with a warm and fuzzy expectation.
For some, it is a time to celebrate.
For others, sadness and anger dominates.
And yet, regardless of our buried relics, this season demands a cease fire.
Patience in the face of indignation.
Understanding in place of incredulity.
Kindness over judgement.
Because on Christmas of 1914, even the Germans and the British ascended their trenches to sing Christmas carols.
And if they can, so can we.
You see a small girl in big, white boots and I see so much more.
I see the discarded shoes belonging to her three sisters and the slippers belonging to her granny.
I see the matchbox car parked next to the princess toys that define my third-born.
I see my husband’s favorite sweatshirt hanging from the coat rack. We have no idea how we acquired this sweatshirt. It just appeared in our house one day and has yet to leave his side.
The nightlight represents the light that chases away my daughters’ fear of the dark.
And that white Tupperware from the 70s belonging to my mother-in-law and filled with flour is temporarily sitting on the bench to make room for all of the Thanksgiving sides in the refrigerator.
A picture is a thousand words.
So look closely at yours.
Because the small things aren’t worth missing.
No, I cannot understand where you are coming from.
And yes, I realize you feel the same.
So, instead, let’s agree to disagree.
Believe it or not, I was the captain of my Varsity Cross Country Team in high school. I attended a tiny, all-girls boarding school just outside of Baltimore, Maryland, filled with rolling hills and scenic trails through deciduous forests. I like to tease that I led from the back because truth-to-be-told I struggled and wasn’t all that good.
Our coach was a Vietnam Vet and also our American History teacher who completely filled the giant wall-sized chalkboard with keywords he would use to tell the story of the battle, using a broken golf club to whack the board and grab our attention when necessary. He walked with a limp, a war injury, and during our running practices would scream, “UP THE HILL, DOWN THE HILL, CAN’T GO THROUGH IT, MUST GO OVER, JUST KEEP GOING.”
I found myself chanting this long after our meets were over. After high school, after an abusive relationship in college, as I worked 60+ hour weeks into the weekend as a teacher, during labor, and now, as a mother of four children with a marriage, house, and part-time sales job to tend to.
Do I want to quit? YES. So many times! So many days! I’m too tired to get over this damn hill and I just want to sit the hell down. But in the midst of consideration, I can so clearly see and hear Mr. Bailey barking orders at me. I can only imagine what he endured to conquer his hills and in my weakest moments, I scrape the barren remnants of my energy reserves and find the strength and will to carry on.
To Just. Keep. Going.
Because the view from the top, I know, is amazing.
Camille Vaughan Photography
It’s that little voice.
You know the one I’m talking about.
The one that won’t leave you alone.
That red flag.
That green light.
That nagging feeling.
The relentless pusher.
Lord, you are so annoyed by it sometimes.
JUST GO AWAY.
I don’t want to try something new and different!
I don’t want to leave what I’ve known!
But there it is and here you are.
That new job. That new relationship. That child. That move.
And, so long as it is in the direction of progress, it’s our job to listen.
If only we could trust . . . and listen.
They say, “You do so much.”
I say, “There’s no time to lose.”
Just today, my father reminded me that since I was a very little girl, I’ve always been cognizant of death.
I questioned, I wondered, and I experienced it’s effects when my friend Ruth passed away at 11 years-old from leukemia.
I’ll never forget the size of that tiny coffin or the banner the budding artist made of felt for her funeral. The one she was unable to fully finish.
I’ll never forget the look on her mother’s face then and 20 years later when I saw her again. The guilt I felt for still living.
And I haven’t forgotten that life is not to be taken for granted, but to be lived.
There’s no time to waste! There’s no time to lose!
We know not of tomorrow so we celebrate today for the gift it is.