What if We Lived in the Moment?


What if We Lived in the Moment?

My husband’s cancer was terminal, but he lived much longer than the professionals projected. We learned to sit up and pay attention. To this moment. This day. These simple pleasures that make up this good life. While we still had hours and days and breath.

As I write this, I’m tucked away in a beautiful, remote cabin on two thousand acres. My days are filled with writing. But I’m also walking the high green hills. Counting wildflowers. Counting the deer and elk across the meadow. Making friends with the wild turkeys who gobble their wake-up call each morning at break of light. And hosting the occasional human visitor.

I brought a handful of books with me—this impractical thing I do, stuffing books into my backpack because I love the feel and heft of a real book when of course it makes much more sense to pack a single e-reader.

One of the books is Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. The author shares thought-provoking stories that mostly center around her table and her love for cooking, around family and life with her husband and two young boys in the Chicago area.

In one of the essay-style chapters, Niequist reminisces about their wedding day when she and her new husband sipped champagne with wedding food and wedding cake spread out between them on a window seat high in a hotel overlooking Chicago.

Ten years later, while celebrating their anniversary, the couple considers the window seat and the cold leftovers to be one of the sweetest moments of their wedding day:
You never know while it’s happening what will burn in your memory, sacred and profound. … When we want something to be momentous, it rarely is. Life is disobedient in that way, insisting on surprising us with its magic.

After working through the initial shock and self-pity and anxiety over my husband’s cancer diagnosis, he and I set out to create memories, and speak hope and encouragement to others.

We established a non-profit and, working around our day jobs, shared what we were doing to live well with late-stage disease. And on our own dime, we explored the landscape after each speaking engagement.

Which means there are movie pictures in living color flickering on the screen of my memory bank. Sitting side-by-side with Hubby on a Cascade mountain top. Driving through Vermont during leaf-changing season. The rather large bull elk that crossed our trail in the Rockies. Navigating the NYC subway system to meet up with kids and grands for buffalo burgers. Running from Pacific waves. Cheering on our son at the Boston Marathon. Exploring Utah’s orange canyons.

Wholly in each moment. And holy given over to each moment.

Ironically, those last years of our marriage—the cancer years—were the best. Because we planned more fun and created more adventure. We took more risks, daring to believe there were audiences of people who would care to listen to our message of hope.

We paid closer attention to the moments that make up a good life, even with cancer in the picture.

Settled into this sturdy log cabin on far-flung acreage, I am still paying attention and noticing the sacred and the profound – the wild colors and wildlife and wild sounds. These moments are also being burned into my movie collection.

Our unofficial mantra for the last years and months of my husband’s life is what I’m still living today as a widow:
Relish this moment. Drink in this simple joy. Whisper gratitude.

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What an exquisite post! I needed every word and could literally feel the journey both of you chose. Thank you so much. I am going to share your “mantra” with others. God bless you!