Author: Darcie Sims
Have you ever had a moment? You know, a moment when time stood still and everything was as it should be—right and good and whole and wonderful. A moment when you were in the right place at the right time and life was good. Did you ever have a moment like that?
Did you ever have a moment when the sun danced across the windowpane and made a rainbow through the glass? Or the breeze caught the fragrance of roses and sent it drifting past your nose and you remembered the prom and your first corsage? Did you ever have a moment when the world sang in harmony and everyone knew the words?
I did, but I have forgotten most of those magical moments when time stood still and life was caught in memory. I seem now only to keep count of the empty moments that are left in my life. I seem to keep track of all the things I will never have and keep mental lists of the things I have missed along the way. Death, it seems, has given me a new way of thinking and viewing the world. And moments seem to have changed from wondrous to horrendous. I wonder what happened.
I found myself counting the moments the other day until the light turned green. My mind wandered, and as I searched my memory banks, I began to recall moments. As the light stayed red, my mind drifted back across the scrapbook of my life, and I began to turn the pages.
I remembered a summer day’s drive long ago, when we were headed nowhere, just cruising the country road in search of nothing. We passed a barn, one of those old, faded, barns that might have once been red. It was leaning to the west—well, actually, it was sighing to the west—and it looked as though it would simply lean into the ground at any moment. We stopped and just looked at that barn. It seemed symbolic of our struggles at the moment: just barely hanging on, yet still drawing strength from its foundation and structure. That is how we survived our son’s battle with cancer: just barely hanging on, yet sustained by some mysterious inner force. We stood still and drank in the symbolism of that barn and drew courage from its message to hang on.
I found myself remembering that moment of long ago. Other moments came to me, as I sat there in traffic, and I let my mind continue to drift. There were moments of sheer terror, so many of them that they seemed to darken the sun. I pushed them away and searched for something more. I needed to find a moment to refresh me, to recharge me, to tell me to hang on some more.
I found that moment as I remembered a picnic in the mountains, taken only a few weeks before his death. We found a moment of peace as we spread our quilt at the edge of a tiny mountain lake. Surrounded by snowcapped peaks and autumn tinged aspen, we found the solitude and calmness we had been seeking. We basked in the sun and let the breeze caress us. We ate sandwiches and apples and sang camp songs and played silly finger games. We made up stories and looked for elves that might live beneath the fallen leaves. It only lasted a short time, but it was a reprieve from the real world, and we needed the peace of those moments. I am grateful for those moments. Those memories now sustain us in our sorrow.
Do you have moments to cherish? Do you have moments that revive and replenish you? Or are you so busy hurrying through the day that there is no time to gather in the moments? We are often so intent on surviving the day that we fail to find the magic in the moments that are our life. In grief, so many of our hours and days and weeks and months are filled with pain and sorrow that we forget moments.
We are seeking the end of the pain, the end of the sadness, the end of the sorrow. We are so busy seeking that we often become blind to the moments when it doesn’t hurt quite so intensely. We may not pay attention to the moments when happiness starts to float past our memory, but as we recognize it, we wipe it away with tears and bitterness, focusing on the knowledge that we will never have any more moments like that one.
And that is true. The moments we have shared with our cherished ones are gone, and we will not accumulate any more on this earthly plane. But must we lose the moments we have simply because we are too busy or too tired or too afraid to embrace them?
The next time you are overwhelmed or lost or empty or hurting, try to clear your mind and let your heart go searching for a moment. See if you can let your eyes see what is really visible, instead of seeing what is no longer within hug’s reach.
Just for a moment, don’t look for anything. Just be.
The secret to surviving is in the quiet moments of your own thoughts. The secret to surviving grief is not how you face the day or even how you battle the emotions of grief, but in how you choose to spend the moments. Life is nothing but moments, moment after moment, all piled on top of another, jumbled together, tumbled and tossed and lived and let go. We laugh in the moment. We sing, we dance, we weep, we live, and we die in a moment. Some moments are awful and some are magical, but all are.
Learn to look for moments. You will not forget a single moment of your life. They are all stored somewhere in the recesses of your mind. But we can choose which ones come forward to support us or defeat us. Let your moments caress you the same way the breeze caresses the leaves as they float downward, spinning towards whatever lies ahead. Do they know they are destined for the leaf pile or are they on some mystical adventure that will only be revealed in the moment it happens?
We don’t know and that’s exactly right. We don’t know. We can only guess or fear or embrace. Go forward into your moments and let them come to you, to fill you, to recharge you, to comfort you. The awful ones weren’t any longer than the wonderful ones. You choose which ones to remember.
And the next time you find yourself waiting in traffic or stuck in a place you don’t want to be, remember the magic of the moment and learn to cherish the ones you have. Find something to notice and embrace. Savor the moment; it is yours.
Catch a sunbeam.
Notice how leaves shimmer.
Gaze into the coals of a fire.
Let the breeze ruffle your hair.
Let music find a path to your heart.
Feel a stream tickle your bare toes.
Breathe in moonbeams.
Try to catch a falling star.
Laugh or at least try.
Pet a puppy.
Sit in the grass.
Walk on an old path.
Let the tears come.
Find a safe place to scream.
Listen to your heart.
Wallow in your grief.
Wander in your despair.
Forgive yourself for living.