Maki and I went up to see Vernon together today, with great hopes (as we always have.) He’s been so active and present lately…even if for short periods. But when we got there today, we could tell Vernon was not into having visitors. He seemed tired and distant. Ah! Every time I tell myself I understand the peaks and valleys, the two steps forward/one step back momentum, I still find I suffer from high expectations.
But this is how we are dealing with it: If Vernon isn’t up for visiting, we leave. We might go back later, and he may or may not be in a better mood. But sometimes, its just not a day for visitors. I hate to disappoint Maki with days like this, since he only gets to visit his dad once a week. But fortunately Brea is filled with novelty restaurants. That’s like heaven to a 12 year old.
So today we exchanged the hospital for a waffle-themed diner. It was fun while it lasted. We were tempted (if time had allowed) to go to a movie instead of revisiting the hospital. I guess we were a little bummed-out that Vernon wasn’t responsive. But Maki, in his pragmatic way, offered: “Daddy has been working hard all week. It’s his day off.” He also related with the idea that he doesn’t like to jump out of bed and do things on Saturday mornings either, just because the family wants him to. Ah, such wizened perspectives. I guess Maki and daddy are living out their own parallels.
“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find our eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land: there is no other life but this.” —Henry David Thoreau
Sometimes (most of the time?) taking the opportunity of the moment isn’t about the thing we set out to do that morning. Sometimes its about letting go of our expectations, the thing we THOUGHT we wanted to do. Sometimes its about walking away for a bit and embracing a different version of the moment.
Truthfully, I had a better time with Maki eating waffles and chatting about life on the long drive either way than I did at the hospital (today’s main event.) That doesn’t mean I won’t be up again Monday morning with high expectations for Vernon all over again. It also doesn’t mean Maki and I won’t visit Vernon next weekend. But these days, time is precious. All we can do is take the moments we have and find our best way to be present in them. Sometimes it means changing our plans and doing something else.
This is the one life we have. It is precious. Change your expectations mid-stream. Eat more waffles.