What are the moments that make up a life? Are they the extraordinary moments, such as great accomplishments, promotions, graduations, weddings and trips to far away places? Or are they mundane things, like grocery shopping, gardening and a walk in the neighborhood, or looking at a beautiful sunset? Maybe it’s the sound of a family member laughing in another room, making coffee in the morning or opening blinds to let in the sunshine.
Sometimes we get so busy chasing extraordinary moments that we don’t notice the ordinary ones; the moments that, when taken away, we would miss more than anything. Things like a child slamming the door on the way out, your partner slurping coffee in the morning or hanging clothing out to dry on a clothesline.
When people experience tragedy and loss, what they miss most are the ordinary moments, not the extraordinary ones. If we are grateful for them as they happen, we might become more tolerant, more compassionate and more real.
When a loved one is gone, we yearn to hear the corny joke, slamming door and slurping coffee, but we will never hear them again. Interestingly, at funeral home visitations, people don’t remember the great things the deceased has done. They remember how that person listened, or how they always had a smile and a positive slant on life.
I’ll always remember phone calls from my mother. I would see her name on the call display and answer the phone with, “G’morning mah dear,” and she would giggle. It was always a little thing with us. She’s been gone now for five years and what I miss the most about her is that giggle over the phone. I also miss her joie de vivre and how she could make an event out of mundane, everyday things.
When she was very sick, I flew home to spend time with her and to help out. My plane arrived late and I didn’t get to the house until 2 a.m. We had agreed that she and dad would go to bed, leave the door unlocked for me and I would see them in the morning.
When I arrived at the house, the door was unlocked, and I noticed the glow of light in my bedroom. It looked so warm and inviting. I paid the taxi driver, got in the door with my suitcase, and tiptoed quietly to my room. Not only was the bedside light on, but there was also a glass of cranberry juice – still sweating from the ice – and a plate of ginger cookies on the dresser.
I sat on the bed, marvelling at how my mother, who was so sick, would have the inclination and energy to welcome me like this before she went to bed. And, at 2 a.m., as I took a sip of juice and ate the first cookie, she came out of her bedroom and sat beside me on the bed. She was so happy to see me. This scene sticks out in my mind more than many other extraordinary events of her life. When I close my eyes and picture that bedroom scene, I remember and am grateful to have had her for 61 years. I have no photo, but what I have is in my mind. It’s way better than a smartphone photo.
Life is not always made up of grand concerts, expensive gifts and calamitous moments. It’s what happens as we go through our days, one after the other. So often we focus on what’s lacking or when things didn’t turn out the way we wanted, but when we are grateful for the ordinary things and recognize their beauty, we become happy and content.
Those ordinary moments are all about the place we live, the life we lead and the people around us – it’s all our making. They mean the most, cost the least, and remain forever in our memories.
And that’s pretty amazing.
I wish for all of us more awareness and gratefulness of the ordinary moments in our days.