This is the blessing. Being here, right now in this moment with my handsome husband. Hearing the birds sing-songing, the crickets buzzing, the bubbly sort of sounds of the water as it laps at the sides of our boat. My heart is overwhelmed by the honest and true blessing of this very moment. This day, which Don and I have promised to spend together. And knowing that in our lives, at any given moment, the tides can swiftly turn.
Such is the case with a family we know well of. A woman, a wondrous soul, who just a few short months ago appeared to us happy, healthy, and involved up to her ears in the life of her family. Constantly giving of herself, of her time, her resources, Mary appeared to me tireless in her efforts to be the ultimate mother, wife, whatever the situation called upon for her to be.
Mary was Team Mom for my son Nick's college lacrosse team. Her accomplishments went far beyond what I could imagine doing: coordinating team dinners, cook outs, team apparel sales,
hosting the entire team and coaching staff for meals, making sure that the boys had snack bags, restaurant meals and all creature comforts as they traveled over seven states competing in their inaugural NCAA lacrosse season. And as if that wasn't enough, she even made sure that our visiting competitors were fed as well!
Mary was the heart and soul of the team - a true Team Mom in every sense of the term. In all the years that I held the same title, I know as God's honest that I couldn't have held a candle to Mary's efforts and accomplishments. This wonderful little blue eyed, strawberry blonde lady was a giving, loving, one-woman power house.
In an email sent from her son to our son Nick, we learned in late July that Mary had been diagnosed with stage IV colon and liver cancer. I last saw her at the celebratory team dinner in May. She was the highest (and to be truthful, only) bidder for a necklace and earring set which I had made and donated to the silent auction fundraiser for the team. She seemed thrilled to have "won" my humble creations - "they're just my color!" she happily exclaimed. She put the necklace on at once and wore it throughout the afternoon.
Seeing her that day. Thanking her for all of her hard work. Leaving her with the words "...call me if you need help Mary. With anything. We'll be there." I would have never for an instant thought that would be the last time we would ever speak with her.
Yesterday we received word that Mary had passed away. We were stunned. Still are. And as I sit writing we are only just now receiving word of the arrangements being made to honor and remember Mary. The wake will be this evening. We'll be there, along with our son, to remember and celebrate this marvelous life - a life of love and giving, and to offer our condolences to her family. A husband. Two sons. A daughter. Seven weeks. From diagnosis to the end. Gone.
For those of you who know me well, you know that I'm a girl of simple pleasures. One who sees the blessing of a hazy moonlit night (last night. I just had to get up and watch out the window.) The blessing of the wind dancing my tangly hair into knots. Realizing the blessing of looking into the eyes of the people I meet, and reaching even further to see into their heart. For Mary, I don't want to waste a moment, miss a blessing, pass up a chance to drink in the simple abundance of a day. Feeling the breeze. The warmth of the sun. The sound of the water. Having the man I love a short and simple arm's reach away. This is true wealth. Being here. Living, loving, and giving.
God must have had a pretty important job up in the realm of His Heavens to have needed to call such a special angel. God bless you Mary. And thank you for all you have done.
Today. Don't wast a second on ill feelings, regrets, anger, hate, disappointment. Reach out. Love that husband. Kiss your kids. Wrap your arms around yourself and give yourself some love. You have today. Don't let a minute of it pass you by without being grateful.
For. Just. This.
grateful for this present moment...
Later...wrote this post earlier today, but wanted to record it here just as it was written this morning. It's after dinner. Don cooked up his "nothing else can compare" fish fry for Nick and I on this, Nick's last night at home before he returns to school. Words cannot express how good it was to just come home and be together after attending Mary's wake. The visitation was held at a HUGE Catholic Church in Northbrook. The line of those waiting to pay their respects to Mary and her family formed to the back of the church and out the door - more than a hundred at least waiting their turn. It was early, there were still hundreds I'm sure yet to attend. The picture that stands out foremost in my mind is of her husband, now standing alone without his bride by his side. Another, that of her college age son, sitting in the pew, surrounded by his friends, his girlfriend at his side, her hand tightly entwined with his own. I look at my men tonight, my husband, my son. I listen to their voices, their shared conversations. And I am thanking my God that I am here with them, tonight. Not taking a minute of this blessing for granted.