It was almost three months ago that I drove home from my office just before lunchtime at speeds we won’t discuss, with exactly two thoughts in my head:
Please, God, don’t let my mom die.
Please, God, don’t let my mom die with my 4-year-old daughter there, otherwise alone.
Because, obviously, it’s my mom. I can’t imagine life without her. I truly mean that – I cannot imagine life without her.
And the second thought – because my 4-year-old can vividly recall more or less everything that’s occurred since she turned two. She often recounts mundane days down to the finest detail – what I was wearing, what she was wearing, where we were standing, what I said. (I am in SO much trouble one day.)
She can recall big events with even more clarity. And what a horrible, horrible thing to have seared into her memory.
The 9-1-1 operator reminded me to please slow down. The GPS on my cell phone let her know I’d traveled just over four miles in the three minutes we’d been on the phone, and I was on surface streets.
I beat the paramedics by 60 seconds. Enough time to burst through the front door, see Molley standing before my mom with a stunned look on her face, but trying to help, my mom on the couch with her head between her legs, trying to stay conscious.
She spent the next three days in the hospital. It was on the second day that I decided it was time to make the last major life change I knew I needed to make, and so the next week, I quit my job (well, technically, I gave four weeks of notice).
It wasn’t an easy decision, even though it was the right one, and I’m lucky that my manager was so gracious because I was struggling with it.
Shortly after reentry into my old – and new again – freelance life, when I had the time to drop my son off at school, go to the Mother’s Day lunch, take my daughter to the doctor, and do those other chores or tasks that I clearly took for granted once upon a time, I knew how right it was. I’ve felt it was right every single day.
Today, I felt it in such a huge way that I was flooded with gratitude. Juggling freelance work that I love that is slightly more than full time, two little kids who are on summer break and the inconsistent schedule of a spouse who often travels for work occasionally leaves me wondering whether my sanity will in fact remain intact.
But it will. It will remain intact.
I love my work.
I love my kids. Obviously. What parent doesn’t? But the truth is that I missed them even more than I realized.
I love my family.
And I love feeling like I can be where I should be, when I should be. It’s been a long time since I felt that. I didn’t feel that when I had to go back to California after we nearly lost my dad to septic shock three years ago. I didn’t feel that last summer when I couldn’t be with my mom after her neck was severely broken in a bad car accident.
I didn’t even feel that recently, even though we finally live in the same state again, for some of the appointments following my mom’s hospitalization. Because I couldn’t be there when I felt I needed to be there.
On Monday, I felt very differently for the first time in a long, long time. I got up early and worked hard until 1:00, then left to go to the cardiologist with my mom. And then we went for pedicures and we talked. She came back to the house. We sat out back and watched the kids play.
Sitting there on the dusty cushion of the patio chair, uncomfortably hot at 6:30 in the evening, I was overwhelmed with a feeling I’ve wanted for for a very, very long time.
I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to do. And I’m so grateful for this.
I’m not going to take it for granted. I’m going to work hard because I always do, but I’m going to work even harder to maintain the balance between work and my life. I’m going to soak up every perfect minute, even when the hours in which those minutes tick away are anything but perfect.
We have no idea what the future holds. Life can literally change in a heartbeat – or the lack of one. It can change with one missed stop sign. One uncertain decision.
And even if what the future holds is predictable and consistent, each day is a day I’ll never get back.
So I will remind myself, every day if I need to: I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to do.My mom and the kids in 2011