Here's my latest Life Lines column:
By all appearances, I am a glass-is-half-empty kind of person. Something as simple as a burned pot of tomato sauce or a broken dish can send me crashing into a woe-is-me state. And yet, I would argue, beneath my pessimistic veneer beats the heart of an eternal optimist. My husband, Dennis, would probably raise an eyebrow over that statement, or just outright laugh, but the older I get, the truer I believe it to be.
I think it has something to do with my desire to shed some of the worldly wants that take up too much of my energy. And I think it has something to do with the realization – finally – that I am truly blessed and that I should appreciate my blessings while I have them. Because I know all too well that in the blink of an eye life can go from near perfect to perfect storm.
It occurred to me recently, as Chiara skipped through the kitchen singing a song about a baby beluga and Olivia practiced Hot Cross Buns on her violin and Noah headed out to a middle school movie night, that life is good, very good. Despite the chaos, despite the almost-daily nagging that must go on just to get the kids to do what they know they are supposed to do, despite the bad economy and general stress, there is not much that could make my life any better than it already is.
As I get older, and, dare I say, wiser, I am starting to notice things I once took for granted. I look around and see a healthy family, and thank God that the worst we have had to deal with so far is the occasional cold or stomach bug. I watch my children surprise me with an unexpected act of kindness toward someone else, and I thank God for the time I’ve had with them and pray that there will be much more. I hear Dennis upstairs getting Chiara ready for bed, reading a book and saying her prayers, and I thank God for a husband who is still my best friend.
I’ve never been one to shy away from telling people my age. The numbers have never meant that much to me. But now, at 47, I am definitely more aware of time and its passing and how quickly the years seem to fly by. I know that what I have today may not be what I have tomorrow – physically, mentally, financially, professionally.
Sometimes when I talk to my grandmother, who is almost 97 and still living on her own, I hear the exhaustion in her voice. Her days stretch on endlessly, as do the nights. Just bending down to tie her shoe is fraught with danger because one little misstep and she could fall. In her I can see at once how powerful and how fragile life is. She is a testament to willpower and determination and strength. But even with all of that, time eventually has its way.
I pray that I get the kind of time and health that my grandmother continues to enjoy, and yet I am very conscious of the fact that I am now the age my mother was when she died. A swing of 50 years.
It would be easy to dwell on the latter possibility, to mark my days with what-ifs and fear, but then I’d be giving up what I have right now for what may never be. “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.” (Mt 6:34)
So it turns out that maybe the glass is half empty, but that’s only because I’ve decided to drink fully from the cup of life.
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