A friend of mine hasn’t been feeling well. She had a cold or maybe it was the flu. When she wrote me I could tell by the uncharacteristic abundance of typos that she wasn’t feeling great. I thought about her, hoping she’d feel better soon. And then yesterday there she was, so much better, her old self, witty, funny, silly, and I felt tremendous relief. I hadn’t realized how concerned I was until she was better.
When I was nine my father went horse back riding. It was a Wednesday. He and my mother always went riding Wednesday afternoons. I was home, sick with the flu that afternoon. I remember staring out the window of my bedroom, the sunlight far too harsh forced me to turn my head from its glaring light. My father told me he’d look in on me when he returned. He never did. At least not for a long time. That afternoon he fell off his horse and, as luck would have it, he did not die as, those who administered to his broken body, predicted. He did not die, but he was never the same.
Sometimes our lives change so suddenly it is impossible for our minds to keep up. Sometimes it takes years to fully appreciate how one second can change so much.
When Emma was born, I could not have anticipated how completely my life would change as a result of her being. It took years for me to process, to catch up, to fully appreciate the magnitude of one child’s existence and all that would occur as a direct result. I could not have imagined how completely her life would change mine. And now, today, in this moment I can say with complete and utter conviction, her life has made mine infinitely better, infinitely more enriched, infinitely more meaningful. Her life. Her existence. Selfishly, and I do mean that literally, selfishly, I have benefited so completely from her being in this world, it takes my breath away.
In any given moment our lives can change. Just like that. And in that moment we have no way of knowing where we will be led. Awhile ago I made a choice. I didn’t think of it as a choice at the time, but I see now, that in fact it was. I chose to view the things that have happened in my life as moments of possibility. As long as I am allowed to live, each moment is a possibility to learn, to grow, to be open to new ideas. I can say that easily now. I understand this. As lives go, mine has been a privileged one. My perceived “hardship” is nothing compared to what so many have endured. I do not say any of this flippantly. This choice I made has been relatively easy to follow.
When my friend was sick I worried, when my father almost died I was devastated, when my child was diagnosed I despaired, but these things happened regardless of my response. My response to them didn’t change their occurrence.
In this moment it’s raining outside. Drops of water plop erratically on the air conditioning unit outside my studio, the clouds drift lazily along, skimming the tops of the multilevel buildings I see outside my window. The red brake lights from the cars careening along the interlaced roadways create a moving collage as they speed off and on the exit ramps of the 59th Street bridge. In this moment I am safe, my husband is safe, my family is safe, my friend is feeling better… In this moment, in this brief moment, all is well and I am filled with gratitude for all I have. I am filled with appreciation for the enormity of how one life has so profoundly changed my own in ways I could not have dared imagine. I am humbled, knowing I will never be able to fully repay the gifts she has given me.