I spent some time recently scrolling through old photos on my phone. I do this often, since that's the quickest access I have to a nice little section of photos with my husband. When I get to missing him mightily I'll take a few moments to look through them, trying to bring back to mind every memory we shared.
This day in particular I came across some photos of us in Colorado, one of our favorite places to be. A few swipes in I found a photo of our epic snowmobiling trip we took up the Colorado mountains to look down upon the gorgeous Continental Divide.
I'd seen these particular photos many times before, yet for some reason today they were bothering me and I couldn't figure out why.
I've learned over the last few years feelings don't just come from nowhere. They typically arise from a place of pain. I've also learned that for myself it's better to take some time, close my eyes and listen to my heart, let it speak to me and tell me why I'm feeling the way I am.
It came to me fairly quickly.
I was feeling sadness and pain because those photos were taken 5 months before my husband's death. Only 5 months.
That trip was one we'd taken on a break from chemo. We were told Joel's cancer had stabilized and it'd be a good idea to take a break, relax, go on a trip.
So we did.
We went with my family to Colorado, a place that made us come alive. The trip was nearly perfect. We holed up in a mountain loft with our new baby boy; played games, ate good food and ventured out every now and again for snow adventures. It was one of the best trips of my life.
Not long after our return we were told that during our wonderful "break" the cancer had completely grown back. 10 weeks of a break had wiped out the results of 6 months of chemo. We were devastated.
His only chance at survival now was surgery. That very surgery claimed his life and left ours with a void, forever.
Looking back the feelings made me angry because we were on a ticking time clock with Joel and didn't even know it. 5 months, 25 weeks was all I had left with the love of my life.
That made me angry. Will always make me angry. But it also made me think.
What would I have done differently if I had known our time was drawing to a close? What words would I have told him? What things would I have changed?
Truth is, we are all on a ticking time clock of sorts. We tend to live our lives as if we have unlimited amounts of time when the opposite is true. We are all on a finite amount of time, which grows less with each passing day and not more.
As I made my way through the photos I had to release the sting of regret, regret that I didn't live every moment as preciously as I should have.
If I'd have only known what was coming I would've hugged a little tighter. Held on a little longer.
But I didn't know. Know of us did. None of us do.
If there's one thing I took away from the ache the picture brought to my heart, was the remembrance that each day is a gift.
We are not guaranteed another moment of it. While we all know that fact in our heads, rarely do we live that reality in our hearts.
The moments that are the most simple, the ones we deem not worth remembering, are the very ones that create an entire life with the person you love. And those moments are the very things you miss the most when they're gone.
The silent trips in the car, the grocery store runs, the cuddles on the couch, the warm space beside you in bed. Being together. Simply being together.
You never realize how much it means until it's gone forever. Then you'd give anything in the world to have it back.
Life, it's precious. It's a gift. One not ever to be taken for granted. What would it look like if we treated relationships as the unpredictable force they are. If we pursued life as if not a day of it was guaranteed. If we ignored what was "good" to pursue what could be better. If we lived every single day as if it could be the last one we had.
Our world would change. We could change the world.
If you have someone you love today be sure to hug them a little tighter, hold on a little longer; then go live life a little fuller, a little deeper, a little richer.
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