JEN’S ZEN – Remember Not to Forget

Do you ever just fall into bed, completely wiped out from … Life? 

Of course you do. You’re a Parent. 

The packing lunches, readying school children, working, dentist appointments, bathing the dog, bathing the kids, carpooling, laundry, making dinner, cleaning dinner, bedtime, books, brushing teeth … Sigh. I know.

Do you ever lie in bed and think,
This must have been the longest day of my life,”
and kind of shudder at the thought of tomorrow’s to-do list?

Me, too. But just when I’m about to complain, to really complain …

I remember not to forget.

I awoke this year on my 35th birthday to the news that a schoolmate had died. On the very day I woke up celebrating my life, hers ended. I didn’t know her well, but I knew of her battle against cancer, and I was rooting for her, as was our whole community. She didn’t get a chance to get married, to have children … 

She was fighting for her life while I was worrying about my to-do lists.

At her funeral, where I couldn’t help but realize I was sitting next to one of my best friends as so many in that room said goodbye to theirs – her mother, saying goodbye to her daughter – a woman sang out a soulful rendition of Janice Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee.”

“And I’d trade all of my tomorrows, for one single yesterday…”

Some days, my kids’ voices blend into this pitch that hurts my ears, and the “I wants” and “I needs” and straight-up chaos of a family and the details and the school papers and … raising small human beings. 

I get annoyed, my tone gets tight. I “fall into bed” . Only to read this soul-shaking Facebook post from a grieving father who lost his 8-year-old son to cancer:

“It’s been 8 months since I gave you a hug, Buddy.

I miss you.”

I fret about our house not being clean enough or big enough or enough enough, and then I remember packing household items not too long ago to donate to a family who lost theirs in a fire.

I remember watching my children blissfully bounce around at the park this summer, climbing and sliding away – next to a mother and father spoon-feeding their teenage child in a wheelchair, the victim of a car accident.

In the perfect world, there would be no pain. No cancer. No tragedy. But we live in the real world, and trivial matters actually seem important. We fall into bed exhausted, worrying about tomorrow’s to-do lists.

That’s when we have to remember not to forget.

That tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, and we don’t get to trade our tomorrows for yesterday.

That we’d beg for THIS day back, when to-do lists were too long, patience too short, money too thin and “problems” too thick. 

We’d beg for this day back
were tomorrow to hold
something truly tragic.

We have to remember not to forget.

How truly blessed we are to be exhausted by Life. And to be truly grateful for every person, every moment, and every single topsy-turvy event of the messiest, loudest, craziest, most imperfect and truly unruly longest days of our Lives.

"Because the damn dishes are never done. Laundry is a cruel joke. And because children are beautiful lessons in patience and counting. 10, 9, 8, 7 Breathe…"

Jen W. O'Deay