When They Need You

I got home late Wednesday night from a full day of activities.  Completely exhausted but too wound up to sleep, I took a bath to relax and began to read a book. I’m not really not sure what time I finally went to sleep, but when I woke up at 7:15, I had a massive headache and my body felt 20 years older than my chronological age.


I willed myself to wake up and put my contacts in my eyes. I threw on some clothes, ran downstairs and prayed that the coffee would make my head feel better.  After my quick trip to the gym coupled with the cup of coffee, I was closer to feeling human.  That’s when I got the call.


My 25-year-old son, who lives in Columbus, had been at home for a week recovering from Diverticulitis.  A strange disease for a young guy, but painful just the same. He had been diagnosed a week before and had done nothing but lie on the couch and sleep.  I believe the days were getting long and lonely.


Anyway, I asked him how he was feeling and he said, “the same, maybe a little better”.  I was hoping for more than “a little better”.  He asked me if I could come in to visit with him. He then repeated this statement multiple times. There I was, sitting at my desk, with a million things to do. My appointments had canceled a couple hours before, and I impulsively decided that this was a sign that I should just go. I ran to change my clothes and left for Columbus.


I believe he called me two times during that car ride. Each time, he didn’t really have a good reason for calling.  When I pulled up to the townhouse, he was sitting outside waiting for me, so excited and happy that I was there. On pain medication and unable to drive, he was relieved to get out of the house and go to lunch.  Over our meal, he decided that I should make him some homemade soup. I took him shopping and picked out the foods that he could eat. He said it felt good to be walking and moving through the store instead of lying on a couch.


We went back to his place and I made the soup. He talked to me the whole time and helped me cut up vegetables. He repeatedly told me how much he appreciated me taking him out and making dinner. We watched TV together for a while until I announced that it was time to go. He kept insisting that I should stay but I knew he had a friend coming over soon. Instead, I suggested that he come home with me, but he insisted, “This was his home”.


When I heard this, my first feeling was hurt but my second feeling was pride. He had built a life here and had become independent. This was the way it was supposed to be.


On the ride home, I was thinking about our conversation. I had asked him what I should write about this week, and without missing a beat, he suggested that I write about how kids always need their moms. He said that it doesn’t matter how old you get, how independent you are, or how tough you are, there are certain times in your life when only your mom can help you feel better. I think he’s right.3


Life and Death

Funerals are not something I look forward to, and frankly, I find them quite exhausting. I’m sure you’ve come to the same conclusion regarding this ritual in our lives. Nevertheless, they serve an important function— they enable the surviving loved ones to have a way to say goodbye and help you start the grieving process. With family and friends surrounding you, funerals can give you some sense of comfort and peace.


I always do a lot of thinking when I attend a funeral.  Saturday, as I listened to the family tell wonderful stories of their mother, I was reminded about how easy it is to forget what really matters in life. Let’s be honest here, so much of our days are spent stressed about the car that cut in front of us, upset about the C that our child got on the Math test, or angry with the way our boss talked to us in the meeting. These unimportant details and worries begin to take over our thinking and color our days. They become the way we live our life. Before you know it, this is our pattern. Each day becomes another day and another day, and we live it like we have all the time in the world. We live it like we have the right to waste our days.


We let unimportant “stuff” take up space in our head and we do this willingly. We make a choice that this “stuff” is worthy of our time, our thoughts, our energy, and our life. Whether the choice is conscious or unconscious doesn’t matter. The important point is that it’s still our choice, our decision we have made.


It’s so easy to get caught up in the day’s minutiae and forget about how so little of it really matters. It’s easier to do this than it is to live each day like it’s the last day of our life. There’s a piece of us that must enjoy the emotions that come with the “stuff” that occupies space in our head. We must, or why would we live our lives this way? Maybe we find a strange comfort in spending each day in the same exhausting routine.


I went to the store yesterday to pick up a couple things for dinner. I ran into an acquaintance. I know her husband, but I couldn’t even tell you her name. We chatted for a while before she whispered something to me. I thought I heard her but I surely hoped I was wrong. She repeated it again for me. Her husband had been diagnosed with a terminal cancer and was failing. She searched my eyes and asked me if I thought he was going to be OK. I hugged her and reminded her to take it one day at a time.


Again, I was reminded how fragile life truly is. We make plans in the distant future and fritter away our time, just assuming that we have unlimited days to do whatever we want. The reality is somewhat different.


My suggestion is that you vow to live your life with clarity— be clear on your priorities and demonstrate this in your behavior daily. Live life fully— don’t waste your precious time and energy on “stuff” that’s not important.


Make a pact to live NOW.