I’ve spent most of my life looking forward to the next goal, the next milestone, the next thing on the to-do list. I’ve heard people professing the importance of “living in the moment” and “stopping to smell the roses” my entire life, and I tried to take heed of this, but often with little success. There was just too much to do!
When I was diagnosed with cancer, it was one of the first times in my life when I felt completely out of control of my future. I remember laying next to my youngest daughter the day that I was diagnosed (she was almost three years old at the time), looking at the baby curls that fell on her pillow, breathing in the sweet smell of toddler and feeling so scared about the idea that I might not be around to watch her grow up. It was in that moment that I finally realized the importance of being present, living for now — because no one is guaranteed tomorrow.
I’m reminded of this idea frequently as I talk with a family who has lost their child, or a daughter who is missing her mother — there are far too many of these stories of loss. But there are also so many moments of joy. It is those moments that I focus on now with my own family. A picnic in the back-yard, an extra chapter of a book at bedtime, an impromptu dance party after dinner, those are the moments when I feel most alive. I cherish each one. As Mother Teresa once said, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”