“Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.”
― Michael Landon
I don’t know if I’ve ever actually “lived a day like it was my last,” as the poets-and-advertisers-that-be might encourage us to. I don’t even know what that would feel like. But I do know what it feels like with Vernon. I don’t spend every single day with him, and when I do, it’s only two or three hours at a time. But lately, I’ve started approaching my time with him differently. I try to be careful not to treat it like the chore it felt like when he was most consistently difficult. He can still be difficult, but its never the WHOLE time. As I park my car on the mornings I see him, I tell myself: “You get one more day with your husband. This is a gift! This is borrowed time—be grateful. Enjoy what you can and help him enjoy it too.”
Sometimes he is sleepy, sometimes he is angry and impatient, swearing loudly and being mean (he says he’s figured out that’s “the best way to get rid of people” when he’s annoyed), and sometimes he is lovely and receptive and inexplicably wise. I never know what I’ll get, so its hard to make plans. But at least I can make them. He doesn’t even have that capability.
Thinking this way, like it might be his last—that this day is another chance to connect somehow, a chance we might not get again—has been boosting my attitude, which tends to change in all sorts of ways depending on the mood Vernon is in when he’s with me. Above all, he’s unpredictable.
Here is a little span of thoughts on the matter, that I jotted down before I went to see him this morning:
If this were the last day of your life (and I knew it)
How would I spend it with you?
What would you ask?
Any unfinished business?
What secret story would you tell?
Which friend would you call?
If this day was all you had left,
and all I had left of you…
Would I treat you any different?
I’ve long forgiven your dishes rising at the side of the sink
I know you’ve forgiven mine.
In fact, I’ve forgotten what fighting even felt like.
Will one of us look back and say:
That was our last March?
Our last spring?
That last year?
I sat next to you yesterday, wondering the same things.
And I realized there is nothing left to say
that hasn’t already been said…
or dealt with.
If you are at peace,
then I am at peace.
If you want to talk,
I’m up for it too.
If you want to listen, I hope what I say
touches your heart…
Because you keep expanding mine.