I must admit to tearing up a bit at every hearing of Tim McGraw's popular country song that includes a "bucket list" of activities ranging from sky diving to bull riding to sweet talking and forgiveness. I get emotional when I think people might not realize the value of each day, that unaccustomed to sudden lost, they might assume that every day is a given.
Because I learned at a very early age that nothing is guaranteed, and had that theory reinforced when I hit my mid-30s, I have attempted to cherish the moments, to accept most challenges that come my way, to embrace the unknown and try to learn what I can.
As a result, days can be packed.
Last weekend I spent all day Friday helping artists load in to a downtown festival that happens only because the a festival staff of three, the city, and countless volunteers make it happen. For 13 hours, I ensured that I answered as many questions as possible, smiled at the weary (artists come from across the country), and took a moment every now and then to appreciate the orchestration that makes this celebration of art benefitting local charities possible.
On Saturday, I went from one side of the Houston area to the other dressed in rodeo clown attire. You haven't seen surprise and smiles until you've pulled into a drive thru in between rodeo gigs. On this day, I held on tight as a pygmy goat kept me going in rapid circles, blew tons of bubbles that little boys seemed thrilled to burst (a metaphor for my love life?) and tasted chili from 26 different cook-off teams to judge which was the best. A couple of hours later and sans the red cheeks and fake freckles of Cornbread (my clown name) I attended a benefit for a group that supports persons living with AIDS and then spent some time with a friend who has recently experienced loss and wanted to get out for a while.
Sunday I was back at the arts festival. More questions, more volunteers, and support of artists by way of water, sodas, crackers and cookies filled the afternoon hours until we finally were ready to assist with load out. Once again, I marveled at the willingness of individuals donating time and energy so that others might enjoy a great day.
When the weekend concluded I was wiped. At least I thought I was. Then I got word that my stepfather was not doing well. In ICU with complications to infirmities to numerous to list, I wondered if he would make it through the week. And due to my "to the walls" attitude all weekend, I was physically and emotionally drained.
A tear fell after a phone update from my mother. That's when the angels swooped in. Except, they were "angels unaware." The young man in massage class who was bored as we waited for our next instructions on a routine isn't usually the touchy-feely type. Yet, out of the boredom, he said, he wanted to rub my feet. One woman who knew what was happening with my family kept checking with me and took care of my back. Another lit a candle and said a prayer. And another classmate closed us off from the rest of the class so that she could practice her routine and I got quiet and a full massage before leaving.
The day served as a great reminder. I'm going to continue to remember that living has no contract, no guarantees. But I'm also going to ramp up the gratitude and be aware that others are living . . . and literally dying all around me. A pair of feet, shoulders, or maybe even a needed prayer could be around the next corner. Wonder if there's a pair of wings in my size?