“Time is an illusion.” ~ Albert Einstein
Well, it may or may not be an illusion, but one thing I do know — Time is precious.
Remember when you were a child, and it seemed as if Time moved so slowly. You couldn’t wait until you were 10 years old (double digit). Not to mention, it was impossible to think of yourself ever becoming an adult Then, almost without warning, you find yourself not only an adult, but with grown children.
Where did the Time go?
You wish you could turn back the clock to when they were little, even if just for a day. You would remind yourself those moments are a gift, perhaps the greatest one in your life. Don’t worry and stress about work, which bill to pay first, the piles of laundry that need to be done, or whether you should pick up action figures, spaceships, and assorted toys strategically placed all over the room. Instead, take a moment to play with the little ones who worked hours to create an imaginary world. Stop focusing on things. Focus on the people you love and the memories you are all making.
Would you go back further to when you were a child. Back when your grandparents were still alive? What about a do-over, to a time when your life clock was beginning, and their clock was winding down?
If you knew now what you didn’t know then, would you not run out to play until called in for supper? Rather, would you talk with them? Ask about their childhoods? What games did they play? Did they have a favorite color? And what were their parents and grandparents like?
Somehow — and perhaps it is human nature — we do not grasp the finite measure of Time when we are IN the moment. We go to school and play, anxious to grow up. As adults, we know the necessity of working, and worry about things beyond our control. We forget to embrace the moments that are Golden. We tell ourselves there will be Time later, but what if there isn’t a later?
Life is full of changes from childhood to adulthood. The dreams we might have had as children are often lost when we cross the adult threshold to responsibility and survival. We realize how precious some people were to our very existence and wish we’d had more time with them when they are no longer with us. There is so much we might have learned from them — or done differently — if we had just taken a moment to be still and Embrace the Moment.
As for the reality of Time, it does not escape me that it has been a year since I last posted on this blog. Let’s just say 2018 has been a challenging year, just as it has been (I am sure) for many of you. For me, the priority was to put family first. To make each day count, more than ever.
Put simply, everything is changing. Or, is it?
Why is it when you move forward, you cannot help but look back?
This year, for reasons that will become clear, I walked about my home for the past 25 years and remembered the history we made here as a family. I felt sadness for times gone by, for people who now live only in my memory. At the same time and with great purpose, I focused on the present and prepared for changes that come with adult life.
Children are grown, so we don’t need a big house. Too much work to clean. Besides, my legs don’t always work right so stairs have become a problem — especially the three flights up to my writing loft in the attic. We decided to downsize and move to a new house. As exciting as that is — and it is exciting — a bittersweet melancholy accompanies the joy.
Memories rush forward of moments shared and memories made in this house. Time with loved ones, some who live far away and many who are no longer with us. I remember the happy laughter of our three children at play, the birthdays, holidays, graduations — all the moments that happen in our lives. Not to be excluded are the cherished memories of pet members of the family who also filled this house with happiness and who loved and protected us all. I find comfort in knowing our now almost 5-year old Loki and Koda will be with us as we transition to a new home.
So, this year, I tried not to cry as I watched our now adult children laughing, hugging, and celebrating Christmas. We are proud of the young men they have become. Happy they not only love each other as brothers, but are best friends with one another. The bond is strong. It always will be. I know that.
I often tell young parents working so hard , trying to do everything they can to survive and provide, to remember to Embrace the Moments with their children and all their loved ones and friends. Those moments once lost are lost forever. Some things can fall through the cracks; Love isn’t one of them.
Here is the BIG revelation. Although your children are grown, you do not stop being a parent. Even now, I ask myself did I do enough? Did I feed not just their bodies but also their soul with knowledge and love of God? Will they hold fast to the teachings of childhood, the values and steadfast Faith? Did we supply them with enough invisible suits of armor to protect them from the challenges of life? When we are not around to see worry in their eyes or give that reassuring hug, will Faith strengthen them in a world that isn’t always fair? Truth be told, we live in a time where people (and children) are bombarded by negativity, understandably stressed and/or filled with doubt and worry. We look down, usually at our smart phones instead of up. We have forgotten how to communicate face-to-face; to treat each other with kindness and respect for the qualities that make us all unique individuals.
Life is definitely a journey. We learn day-by-day. No one is perfect.
Still, did I do enough?
I am comforted by the fact there wasn’t a day when I did not tell my children how much I loved them. When I did not talk with them about their day, their worries, their dreams. Not one day when they did not know they could come to us with whatever problems they faced. There wasn’t a day when they didn’t know their father and I believed in them, and that we would always be there for them, no matter what. Even now, as they go out into the world, and we just spent our last Christmas in the home they grew up in, I looked at their love for one another — and for us — and the happiness in their eyes. I know that we did enough. And we are proud of the compassion of their characters, the strength of their values and Faith, and their love and respect for Family.
I tell myself, nothing is changing — only our addresses. We are opening another chapter in the book of our lives. We may not be living under the same roof anymore, but we will always be there for one another. They know it. We know it.
Bottom line: There are no guarantees in life. This past year, my husband lost his only brother, and we have prayed over other dear loved ones courageously fighting illness day-by-day. Then at Thanksgiving, we learned a precious new life will be joining our family, the first grandchild of my deceased brother-in-law. It is comforting to know that he will live on through that child.
In the midst of this, we have been packing and preparing for the next chapter in all our lives. As someone who has kept every card and letter from family and friends, as well as every finger painting, clay vase, unrecognizable abstract item, and dinosaur with a nest of eggs, not to forget the sneakers painted with lady bugs and flowers gifted to me one Mother’s Day by my children, it has been a slow, SLOW process.
So many precious memories. Sweet messages in cards and letters from people now in heaven. These are the treasures I cherish. It isn’t about the material things in life, it is the gifts of the heart that matter most.
So, after celebrating perhaps the most poignant, heartfelt, and blessed Christmas of my life, my New Year’s wish for all of you is to Embrace the Moments. We may not have control over time, but we have control of how we treat each other.
Focus on Kindness. Do not allow the negative thoughts and actions of others (on social media or in person), to bring your spirit down. Instead, be a Light. Do not give up Hope. Give Hugs. Smile. Cheer up those who are sad. Pray for those who are sick, in need, or lost.
Pray for the President (whether you like him or not) and those elected to serve in Washington, that they set aside animosity and party politics, and truly work together with respect. Show by example the importance of unity, love of Country and concern for its safety and its people. Thank Veterans and those in the Armed Forces for their dedication and service, as well as Firemen, Policemen, and First Responders whenever you see them.
Find strength in Faith. Be comforted by the knowledge that there is no place where God is not present. Even if at times you feel alone and life has become too much a struggle, hold fast to Hope. Always look up!
Is Time an illusion? I don’t have the answer, but what I do know is that Life is comprised of moments — invisible threads which when weaved together form memories that can inspire, challenge, comfort, and heal. There are times when we face heartbreaking loss, and this year many people have had unbelievable devastation they have had to face and endure. It is hard — perhaps overwhelming — to try and find any silver lining.
Bad things happen. No one is immune. Life is precious. Storms of life can bring us to our knees. How many times can you be knocked down? Still, lessons are learned by each step forward we take, and every time we fail or fall. Deep within our hearts and soul, is a steely determination to find the strength to persevere and move on.
One thing is certain. We cannot give up on ourselves, or on each other. Not now. Not ever. May you find Light even when darkness surrounds you, Charity toward others, and Hope even when you stand on the precipice of giving up. Don’t.
I wish all of you a Happy New Year, and that you will Embrace the Moments. After all, they are all we really have.
As for my writing, I have several books and projects waiting in the wings for release once we get settled. Please be patient a while longer. As always, I appreciate your friendship and support.
Robert Flores said:
Thanks Ashley for yours, I couldn’t agree more. I agree because I am one that has regrets I didn’t Embrace the Moment with my children while they were young. I was a traveling executive trying to do what I thought was important, but I regret it with a heavy heart I was the Father they needed at some of their critical times in their precious lives. But, My kids are growing up joyful of life inspirit of my lack of embrace. It is only by lots of prayers of repentance and the mercy and grace of God My kids are doing fine. There is a wall that is slowing coming down where we embrace the moment and soon the wall will complete be down allowing us the opportunity to love each other embracing the moment. robert f.