A couple weeks ago, Monday started out with a feeling of fear. I am often shaken when I see a car accident… or at least the remnants of one. I was stopping by the Dunkin Donuts in town to get my decaf coffee, my morning ritual. I turned into the parking lot and actually saw what was causing the traffic…a minivan, ripped apart, pieces of what was once the inside strewn about the road. I knew the driver wasn’t ok after seeing the state of the vehicle. I remember back to when I was 16, the car accident that has left me with a chronic pain condition all these years later. One split second can change your life. My parents’ biggest nightmare… the phone call at 11:30pm telling you your daughter is in the hospital. The frantic rush to get in your car and get there. I know it all too well. That Monday a couple weeks ago came with one of those phone calls to a family of that minivan driver. It also came with a phone call to me.
My mom has been battling a very progressive neurological disorder called Cortico Basal Degeneration for the better part of 8-10 years now and has been declining quite steadily lately. She can’t communicate very well, can’t bathe herself, get to the bathroom alone, or even walk. She needs someone to feed her, to move her, to pretty much do everything for her now. It’s been a long and very emotional road for our family. Monday turned out to be another bump in that road and a reminder of what it is to love unconditionally, and more importantly… Simply.
I sat one of the afternoons in the hospital, reading to her. I sent my Dad home for a nap and my sisters had to go pick up the kids from school. I took a walk downstairs to the gift shop to find a book to read. I came across some kind of inspirational book with short stories. I bought it and went back upstairs. When I went in, mom was in and out of sleep, dozing on and off. When she opened her eyes and looked at me, I asked her if she wanted me to read to her. She got excited and said yes. I pulled a chair up next to the bed and started to read, one hand on her hand, and the other to turn pages of the book in my lap. I read to her for the better part of an hour. We laughed at some of the names in the book as well as at each other. Just to laugh.
It was a wonderful time that I won’t soon forget. It was simple. It was pure. I was lost for an hour just being. I hadn’t done that in a long time, and it felt great.
We sat in silence for some of the time, too, as if we just wanted to sit together. Not having to fill the silence with sound, or discussion, or my reading.
I realized sitting there with mom, that we didn’t have to talk, or do anything for it to be something special. It was ok to sit in silence and just hold her hand. I felt content. I think that maybe she did too.
I have been spending a lot of time with different teams lately. I have watched success continue to unfold. The Unionville LAX team is about to play their district playoff game tomorrow and are rolling along pretty well. I was at a game the other night and got to watch Julie Moran score her hundredth goal. Awesome milestone, awesome memory she will take with her from her HS years on the field.
Earlier that same day, Fordham’s pitcher Jen Mineau happened to throw a perfect game in the Conference Tournament. I doubt she will ever forget that moment on the mound. They just made it to Regionals for the first time in school history. Tomorrow, Nazareth Academy Softball plays for their league championship. There is no question they will be about to play in some of the biggest games of their lives so far… Districts then States if things go according to plan.
Each of these teams is riding the train instead of the roller coaster. They are not letting the highs get too high nor the lows get too low, they are not rushing through it, allowing the amazing memories they are making along the way to slip by. They are taking it one game at a time, slowly, surely. Winning every second of the process.
Two Mondays ago, life changed for everyone… Just as it does every day. But that day, I watched as others around me dealt with tragedy. I paid attention to how I felt inside driving up to see my mom, not knowing what to expect when I got there. Luckily for my family, she got to go home a week later. I watch these teams at pivotal points in their own journies make conscious efforts to stay present, to take it slow, to just be. Lately, I have seen highs, and I have experienced lows. I teach the same.
I know that if we just slow down, if we really pay attention to what’s going on around us, we won’t miss a thing. We will have the ability to look back later and remember every feeling, every moment, every victory, no matter how large or small. But only if we take it slow…
I picked up that book to read the rest tonight before bed. It will always remind me of the time mom and I laughed at nothing, enjoying each other’s company even sitting in a hospital room together, staring in the same direction.
And I understand now what it means…