Sometimes, when I’m prone to moments of introspection, I can almost feel time taking its constant, unabated flight. I feel my heart beat hard, and I have to plan my next breath. I wonder. About where we’ve been, and where we’re going. About life and love and pain and healing. About memories and plans and what will be.
There is a thought that has been with me this year as never before. Maybe it is because of illness and fear and a dream deferred. Maybe it is due to hearing the word ‘cancer’ and ‘Betsy’ in the same sentence. Maybe due to surgery and the unknown and the blessing of pain and then healing. Maybe it is because I turned thirty exactly a year ago today. Regardless of why, the thought is strong and it comes often. While it is not pleasant in itself, it jolts me in a way that can only be beneficial: At this point in time, I am most likely at least a third of the way through my life.
Since childhood, I have marked time specifically. If we were on a hike, I didn’t like to ask how far we had left to go. I wanted to know how far we had already come. I would ask my Dad- ‘How far have we gone?’ He would tell me we were about a quarter, or a third, or halfway there. In my mind, I would keep myself going that way. I’d think, ‘If we’re a quarter of the way, we need to do what we just did again, three more times.’ – Or, ‘Halfway. So we just need to do exactly what we did one more time.’ I would think that way on car trips, or part way through a vacation, on a bike ride- or even a college semester. And it works. See, I like measuring time that way. It gets you through. It keeps you going. It motivates. It makes me want to fill the time well. The only problem? It doesn’t work with lifespan. I’ve learned more this past year than ever before, that we don’t know what a day will bring. But in that day, I learned faith can overcome fear, and trepidation can give way to courage. I’ve changed in ways that I didn’t expect to in the last 365 days. The person I was just one year ago is gone. Even the things I wanted a year ago are so different today. Experiencing life in visceral ways has done that.
Knowing that if I live as long as my Grandma McBrierty, I have approximately 65 years left, that would seem like a lot. Unless it’s viewed as a fraction. And then it’s just two-thirds of my life left to live. It could be more. It could be less. But I want to fill it. To feel it. To live as I should have lived, to love as I should have loved. To breathe and know and care and heal and learn. To help and give strength and teach and nurture and know. To savor and breathe deeply and feel at rest. To watch the sunset, unhindered. To run in the sand. To hike mountains with friends. To travel with my parents. To laugh with my mom. Smile with my sisters. To sing in the car with the kids. To eat watermelon upside down. To notice the little things. To laugh until my sides hurt. To cry at the moments of fathomless joy, to feel moments of stretching and growth. To know wisdom. To experience the times that build character. To feel enthusiasm. To spend time in our favorite places. With our favorite people. To learn from my mother-in-law. To giggle with my nieces and nephews. I want to fill it with moments that make the heart skip a beat, that bring tears to the eye, that leave a feeling in my soul which can’t be compared. Moments where I look at him and just know. Moments where standing next to him feels so right, where I will always want to be. Moments that will last, and linger on with our children- and grandchildren. I want to fill it with moments of friendship and family. Moments of faith. Sunshine and rain, simple moments of great peace. I want to fill it with incandescently happy memories that won’t fade with time.
If I’m a third of the way, I get to do what I just did only two more times. That first third has had some happy and hard and heart-wrenching things. It had moments of horrible grief and fear and pain. Yes, there were those times. But they are so greatly over-shadowed by the moments of happiness, swelling times of hope and love. Moments where we were cared for and helped in ways we couldn’t conceive of. Moments where we could feel life as an energetic, breathing thing. Moments of birth and rebirth and feeling love in a way that can’t be measured. Swelling moments that made me a wife to a wonderful and thoughtful man, and then a mother to three children who taught me to love as I’d never known. Moments where I felt as if I was the luckiest person in the world. Moments that I don’t want to forget, times when I knew that through whatever we faced, all would be well.
I get to do what I just did, possibly only two more times. I want to use the last two-thirds well, to fill it with the moments that last, the times that satisfy the soul.
“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”