Last week, a talented, beautiful soul left its body and slipped the surly bonds of earth. Its vessel belonged my 40-year-old cousin, who, along with her sister, I legit believe to be my first slumber party pals. She was a talented writer and musician. She could draw seamlessly. She drifted through her adult life due to circumstances outside of her natural control, but my concrete memories of her are fun, amazing and beautiful.
The abrupt end to her journey served me a stark reminder of what we can and can't control, and how to define and treasure what really matters. When I found out, memories flooded into my mind and blew up my week. I thought of the empowered artist she was (why didn't I ever tell her this?) I thought of the fun we had as kids on sweet summer days that seemed to stretch into forever (why didn't I cherish them more? write them down more? document better?)
Naturally, I also think of the things in my life that I always seem to put off til 'later on': the half-finished novel we all have sitting in a bottom drawer, calling my mom on the day I planned to, folding laundry and putting it away the same day it's washed, daily vitamins and supplements...and the list goes on and on and on AND. ON. All so surface but equally pulling at my attention. And over time, without discipline, the novel sits there, mom remains waiting at the other end for me to dial her up, laundry collects (like a BEAST) and the un-nourished body goes "why do you hate me so?!" and protests.
Things were worse when I was living my life as office team player Grace. I was the one who worked while on vacation, and who didn't pipe up and defend myself. I took a lot of lumps to get where I did. And success followed.
However, once I was loosed and took inventory, the environment wasn't pretty. I went without lunch breaks and skipped dentist appointments. I was exhausted and my free time was spent wondering where the light at the end of the tunnel might be. My family life underwent some serious renovations after I realized how absent I truly had been for the sake of getting ahead. I again blame a lack of discipline for this--I should have refused certain things, carved out time for myself and my family and pushed back where necessary. Mea culpa and point taken.
This brings me back to my cousin. At the moment I learned she died, my life treasures, excuses and time bubbled up into my mind. There are things we can control and things we can't. Maybe it's time to bang out the work during the better half of the day in order to stay off social media and email during the sweet afterschool hours spent with my precious son. Maybe it's time to work out more regularly, cook more, take those vitamins, invest more in family and self improvement and less into what doesn't bolster them and push them ahead in a positive light.
I've come to realize these tasks won't handle themselves and as one of the grownups in this equation, it's up to me to make things happen.
And more importantly, maybe it's time to really assess what constitutes a true priority. Take inventory of our own treasures, excuses and time and whip them into shape. Because the truth is, nobody is getting out of this place alive. I think I favor the pursuit of a better life over leaving my weaknesses unchecked.