I wrote this four years ago, shortly after William was born, and it’s truer now than ever.
I just watched this video for the first time yesterday. A ninety-six-year-old man wrote a beautiful, heart-breaking song to his wife a month after her death. Here are some of the lyrics:
“Oh sweet Lorraine
I wish we could do all the good times all over again
Oh sweet Lorraine
Life only goes around once but never again.”
Stuff like this really gets to me.
I still vividly remember 16 years ago, the day my mom had to go to work. Landon was just a baby, in his bouncy seat on the dining room table. Laura was two, the same age as Audrey is now. That was the day I became a mother, because suddenly I was responsible for little lives.
The next eleven years of my life were golden. I remember thinking that life didn’t get any better. First steps, loose teeth, bedtimes, homework, I was there for all of it. I wiped the tears, cleaned the scraped knees, and kept my ears tuned at night for little voices. Long afternoons in my bedroom curling my little girl’s hair, or straightening it, or braiding it, whichever she wanted that day. Rollerblading in the park, playing in the leaves, delivering newspaper in the snow long after dark, carrying them home on my shoulders. My sisters were my best friends and my kids were my whole world. I wanted to hold onto it all forever but I couldn’t. So I just soaked it all in and tried to make every moment last as long as I could.
In the words of David Kauffman, I used to tell myself,
“Turn around slowly
Time is a racer
The blink of an eye
Takes us from here to there.”
He was right.
Four years ago, I left my family in Michigan and moved out to Montana to make a new family, a new life.
For the first couple years, it all felt surreal. Kind of like my family wasn’t actually so far away, and if I just held on long enough they would be there again, just like they were for 22 years. But the time keeps going by and my family is still far away. Over the past couple of years, it has really hit me hard that I don’t know when I will see them again. I don’t know if I will. There are no guarantees.
I had 22 years with my family, and now it is gone.
“Life only goes around once, but never again.”
Now here I am, in the midst of a beautiful, new chapter. My life is still golden. Now, I have a husband, and I am a mother again, twice over. Once again, I have a little girl and a little boy, this time my own. My husband’s family has become my family now, especially after living in the same home with them for so long. I have a new sister, a new brother, another mom and dad, and I love them every bit as much as I love my own family. I am happy; my life and my heart are full once again.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “Live your life like you’re going to die tomorrow.” I disagree. It shouldn’t matter if we have one day left or 10,000. The value of our time is not found in how little of it we have left, but in the love and joy that fills it. I say live your life like you’re going to live to be 100 and don’t waste a single moment of it. Each day comes only once. Each moment comes around only once. We don’t get any of it back. People come into our lives and then they are gone. We either make the most of our time with them or we don’t. We either tell them we love them or we don’t. We either let them get close to us or we don’t.
I’ve done some things right over the years and I’ve done other things wrong. I’m a reserved person. I take everything in. I live inside myself and look out through my eyes. I hear everything, I see everything, I understand people and how they feel. I take it all in and I experience it all deeply. I love fiercely and form strong emotional attachments to people. My feelings and my memories don’t fade with time. But I keep everything locked inside.
It doesn’t do any good to love someone, to live life with someone, to experience beautiful, golden days with someone, if they never know how you feel. It wasn’t until I moved away that I realized my dad was always the one to say “I love you.” What I wouldn’t give to be able to give him a bear hug and say “I love you” to his face now, but I can’t. What I wouldn’t give to sit across the table from Laura and tell her, in person, how proud I am of her. Or to tell Annette how much she inspires me, or Michelle that she has always been my best friend. But I can’t. When I had the chance, I was always too reserved to express matters of the heart.
I have changed now. I don’t waste time anymore, not with the people I have been blessed to share life with now. I risk everything. I try, and I mess things up, and I try again. I refuse to hide anymore.
Life has slapped me hard across the face, and I can assure you I will not make the same mistakes twice. There’s no time to waste holding back. Twenty-two years went by just like that. The past four have gone by just as fast. Savor every moment with the people you love. Don’t hold it all inside. Open up. Share life with them. Tell them how you feel.
Be fearless. Put yourself out there. You will mess it up and look foolish sometimes – that’s guaranteed – but it’s so much better than not trying. The people in your life – they’re in your life for a reason. They need you and your unique blend of strengths and weaknesses for their own growth and fulfillment. They need to know that they matter. They need to hear what is beautiful and amazing and inspiring about them. They need to hear your voice, look into your eyes, and feel your hugs. They need you to make mistakes so that they know they aren’t alone in their brokenness. They need you to share your heart – all of it, even the parts you are afraid of. And you need that too. Your heart needs the freedom that comes from letting go of fear, opening up, and loving with everything you have, giving everything you have to give. So don’t waste time.
Life only goes around once, but never again.