A big armful of life

As the summer sun faded from the sky, I couldn’t help but think about endings. My youngest children frolicked in the pool and I thought about death. Perhaps my reading of East of Eden cast a pall over the dusk, but I thought about my dad, so long gone, and about his last summer. We had no idea it was his last summer, of course, because we were all so sure that he would outlive the doctor’s predictions (“four months to two years”).

If he’d been in the plastic pool chair next to me tonight, I thought, what would we say? Probably nothing profound. The grief over what was lost already would silence us.

I watched my children, soaked in the moment and wanted to cry. The moment couldn’t last. Even now, summer flees and my baby girl has lost two baby teeth. On the way home, Zachary quizzed her, checking to see if she believes in the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and Cupid. (Cupid?) He scoffed at his friend who believes in all the mythical childhood characters–and I said, “Don’t spoil it for him.” And he said, “I won’t.”

I thought how my dad’s life never intersected my children’s lives. How sad that they never met. He died four years before my oldest children were born.

The vivid sense of the momentary nature of life reminds me that all this–the endless laundry, the Shasta daisies smiling in the corner of the yard, water droplets dripping from my tan children–all of it will be gone. I think of my grandmother, lying in a bed in the center of my cousin’s family room, clinging to life, barely, on her 102nd birthday–the challenges of raising six children during the Depression, the delight of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, the sorrow of watching her husband of 62 years die from the ravages of bone cancer–all of that burned away like fog on a summer day. Momentary troubles, momentary joy.

I know I am mortal. I don’t mind getting old, except for the age spots on my hands, the hairs sprouting on my chin and the touchiness of my lower back, but I don’t want to die. I want to gather my life into my arms, greedy for more, and refuse to loosen my grip.

10 thoughts on “A big armful of life

  1. Ah, Mel, I do understand. I haven’t lost a parent yet, but I can totally relate to watching life fly by, especially through our kids. My one consolation (which is a huge understatement): Eternity with my Savior will be so much more than this is or ever could be. 🙂


  2. Hmmmm…..
    that post makes me feel warm all over.
    I think we’re all greedy for more of the good stuff – that which you have with your kids is the good stuff.


  3. You are such a great writer Mel. I love your words.

    My dad died May 26th. I loved him, but we had no father/daughter relationship. That makes me sad. I’m so thrilled for the fact that my own children have such a spectacular dad.


  4. Reflecting on the brevity of life is so healthy- what is it I want to leave behind me when I leave this earth? How will my children remember me? Am I on track in fulfilling God’s purpose for my life? With the risk of sounding morbid, thinking about this on a regular basis can be really defining.

    I have a magnet on my fridge that says ” We don’t remember days. We remember moments.” The most interesting stories about us–the ones they recall at our funeral– will not be about the mundane day in and day out stuff. It will be about the moments where we did the unexpected, the wonderful, the daring, or the courageous. Being (hopefully) in the middle chapter of my life, I want to be more deliberate about making that happen.

    Great perspective. Hold tight to that grip of life. We want you around for a very long time…! ; )


  5. I lost my mom on June 15th, the pain is still very raw. I was close to her, and I miss her bitterly. If she were here with me now, and healthy again, she wouldn’t have anything profound to say, either. Not that she couldn’t, but that the easy chatting and companionship was what we shared most of the time.

    I also am not so fond of the twinges in my back, and the age spots on my hands. I’m 42…I thought those started when you got old? Oh, wait…


  6. Grief is such a funny thing. It can hit you at the most random times. Years and years later it can feel like the loss is brand new. Thanks for sharing this…


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