Almost thirteen years ago, my mother-in-law passed away after a battle with cancer. It was about this time of year that she asked the women to come and meet with her and hospice. This included her daughters and daughters-in-law. We were all included because we all loved her, she loved us, and she knew it would take all of us to get through this time. One of the things we discussed was a schedule we would follow. We would take turns coming to the house to help her.
Over the next two months, we would all care for her. We were also there to take care of my father-in-law, and support him. We talked to her, even when she didn’t make sense any longer. We loved her no matter what. We adjusted our lives to there. We came at 1:00 in the morning when needed. I personally thought I would be there for the end. I had a need to be there for the end. Even though I was “only” a daughter-in-law, she loved me and treated me like a daughter.
And then the day came. And I wasn’t there. Because we all thought it wouldn’t be today. It broke my heart to get the call that day. I was at my children’s school volunteering. Because I never thought it would be that day. How I wished I had one more day to be there.
Because of that experience, I have tried to live the past 13 years taking advantage of every opportunity to be with the people that I care about. As my grandparents aged, I especially focused on them. I made sure that I brought the kids to see them during spring breaks. I made a tradition of leaving my scrapbook weekend retreats early to go spend the afternoon with them. I had them all to myself. We would visit about the kids, look at the work I had done, and I would bring them a treat. I cherish the memories of those visits.
I find myself realizing how much I miss knowing, that at any time, I can jump in the car and go see my Grandma. She is not there anymore to go to for comfort, to make happy, or just to reminisce with her about her life. Today as I drove home, I also realized how much easier the wishing we had one more day was, because I had chosen not to live as if there would be one more day. I am so glad I lived the just one more days while they were happening, rather than waiting.
Recently, I found myself feeling even more that I needed to be as diligent about visiting my parents. They moved 600 miles away 8 years ago, and I try to keep the connection with my children and them partly through visiting each summer. After an especially busy year completing my degree, topped with the emotional stress of losing my grandmother, and only having one child to travel with this summer, I had decided that I was not going to go anywhere this summer. By mid-June, that idea had changed. Among other things, I could not bear the idea of disappointing my parents. I especially wanted to do something special with my mom. It only seemed natural to include my aunt, who had become a part of the annual trek to Minnesota. I chose to not lose one more day.
Just as I didn’t live with a we’ll have one more day attitude this summer, I will continue to seek out those moments that can be today, not put off for tomorrow. I don’t want to ever have to wish I had one more day.