“So what are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?”
I came across this quote last week. Since I tend to think of memories in terms of pictures, this is what came to mind. The image is a couple of years old now, but I think it will always be a favorite. My boys piled together, trying to get a picture for our Christmas card. Wild and precious. Looking at it I can still hear them giggling. I think even when they are all grown up, with families of their own I will think of this picture and my heart will swell, more than a little, with the love I have for them.
Not everyone knows this, but outside of photography I am also a hospice nurse on weekends. If you are unfamiliar with hospice, it is the care provided to those that are terminally ill. They may be in their homes, nursing home or hospital. My job is to make sure their last days are comfortable and to guide those caring for them. It isn’t always easy, but surprisingly, the good outweighs the bad. Each time I go to work I am reminded of life’s beauty and imperfection. That the power of love and faith will carry you to endure great things.
Life isn’t perfect, or as a friend of mine says, at the very least “highly overrated”. I know that this is easy to say, but remembering it is a whole other matter. The pressures to create perfection in your body, children and home are everywhere. It’s so easy to get caught up in. I myself am guilty, that I won’t deny. Then my weekend to work rolls around and I am hit with a healthy dose of perspective. I am reminded that no matter how rough you think things might be in your world, someone else has it worse. After 12 years of oncology (cancer) nursing and almost 4 years of hospice I have seen a lot. I have watched husbands, married for 50+ years, care tenderly for their wives, doing things for them that they never imagined doing, loving them every step of the way. I’ve seen parents say good-bye to children all too soon, the agony on their faces almost too much to bare. I’ve watched children, feeling inadequate caring for their parents, yet doing it anyway out of incredible love and respect. I know this all sounds awful, but I truly feel it is a privilege to witness these moments. To hear stories, to get a peek into lives before illness, to watch whole families pour over picture albums and laugh at memories as tears run down their cheeks. Whether they know it or not they are showing me what it means to live. To laugh amidst the tears and pain, to let perfection be gone and let your heart hang out.
By the end of a weekend of work I am exhausted, physically and emotionally. The intensity of what I do teaches lessons and takes its’ toll. I’ve learned the importance of hugging my boys and Bret a bit tighter, to give them extra kisses and take the time to be present, in the moment, everyday. The downside? I’ve probably seen more death than any 37 yr old should, and the subject of it crosses my mind more than I’d like. However, I tend to be more of a glass half full person so I try to focus on the positive in the lesson instead….that life is in fact wild and precious. Make the most of it, imperfections and all.
So my advice to you… hug your babies, love on your spouse and make sure your friends know they matter. Leave the dirty dishes in the sink…they’ll wait. Read that extra story at bedtime, I promise you won’t regret it. And for yourself, do the things that fill your heart with joy and share it with others. You never know how you might touch a life. You only get one go around, make it count.
“What will you do with your one wild and precious life?”