Last night Phil and I went to the Walgreens down the street from our house. We were standing in line behind a young man who was in the process of paying for a pack of cigarettes. I looked at him and said, “My sister died two days ago from smoking cigarettes. I really hope you are thinking about quitting some day soon.”
Phil stood frozen as we watched the young man whom I had never met before process what I had just said to him. Phil’s first thought was that the young man was going to punch him. The young man looked at us and said, “Wow, that is REALLY heavy.” He looked rather freaked out and said it again, adding “I won’t be able to sleep tonight.” Phil, in an effort to soften my blunt statement adds, “Don’t worry, you’re still young. You have time.” The young man shook his head. “No, you are right. I am twenty-eight years old and I have been smoking for fifteen years. I need to think about quitting, but it’s hard.”
I told him, “I know it’s hard – I used to smoke too until I was a couple of years older than you are now. You can do it, you just have to get yourself in the right place mentally.” He smiled and said, “Yeah,” than shook his head again. “Man, that was really heavy.” I replied, “I know, but it was said with love. I really hope you will start working towards quitting. God bless you.” “Thanks,” he replied as he turned to walk towards the door, obviously still freaked out.
Phil looked at me and shook his head. Only you would do something like that. “Hey, I know Fran (my sister) is laughing and cheering me on from heaven,” I replied. You see – her last years on earth suffering from COPD were very difficult to watch. The last time I held her hands while she was on hospice she told me she wanted me to share her story because by her sharing it, she might save someone else’s life. Maybe in a random encounter in Walgreens, she just did…
It’s been quite awhile since my last post and a lot has happened along the way. At Chapter 24, my science fiction novel is almost 2/3rds complete and is a blast to work on. Life has been busy as my husband and I have let go of some responsibilities and taken on new ones. But what I have really felt impressed upon me lately is finding joy in the moment.
If you are like me, your days are filled with tasks to be completed. As soon as I get caught up in one area, more things to be done appear on the horizon. It is so easy to get caught up rushing to the next task that we don’t pause to enjoy the moment that we are in. I often have to stop and ask myself, “Is there a neighbor I need to check on? Is there a friend I have not talked to in awhile? Is there someone I have meant to get in touch with that I haven’t made time for? When is the last time I went with our teenage son for a walk in the park, to the library or a breakfast outing?” I am so grateful for so many things, and especially for my husband Phil. His birthday was this past Tuesday and I knew he always wanted to drive a bulldozer, so I surprised him by taking him on an adventure that he truly enjoyed. We set aside all of our thoughts about our responsibilities and just immersed ourselves in the day. I am grateful we had that opportunity to make memories that will last a lifetime. Who knew pushing huge mounds of dirt could bring so much joy!
While life continues (along with the pressures and stresses of life) I am learning to keep my focus more on God and loving people and less on the stuff that I can’t change anyway. When you really do make an effort to see the glass as half full, and further, to be grateful that you have that glass in the first place, it changes your outlook and joy becomes resident where disappointment or anxiety used to reside. While there is a degree of necessity in doing many tasks, it is the perspective we choose and how we prioritize our day that allows us to make room for the special experiences of life that are truly meaningful…and reminds us to take joy in the moment we are in.