Tomorrow morning looms like the guillotine. I am nothing but dread and terror. A sickening combination.
The alarm will go off at five, and we will be back at it.
I know people who love the routine, who relish a return to normalcy with its predictable schedule and sensible eating and reasonable bed times. I am not one of these people. At my core, I’m a hedonist, just trying to make it from one long weekend to the next. (The next is 12 days away. If you’re counting. Which I am. And I’m eating mini marshmallows straight from the bag as consolation.)
Caleb and Olivia are already back at school. (Deep sigh.) David points out that they were here for three full weeks. I point out that they were here for nineteen full years before that and it still wasn’t enough.
As I sat in church today, seeking solace and answers (How can I face tomorrow? How can I feel better?), I remembered a post I read a few years ago in which the author created visual representations of our life experiences. He noted that during the first 18 years of our lives, we see our parents about 90% of our days. And after we leave home, that daily contact diminishes greatly. He estimated that as an adult, he only sees his parents 3% of his days. He then extrapolated that figure out, generously estimating his parents would live into their nineties, and produced a visual representation of the days he had spent with them and the days he had left with them. It looked like this:
The author, Tim Urban, concluded: “When you look at that reality, you realize that despite not being at the end of your life, you may very well be nearing the end of your time with some of the most important people in your life. If I lay out the total days I’ll ever spend with each of my parents—assuming I’m as lucky as can be—this becomes starkly clear. It turns out that when I graduated from high school, I had already used up 93% of my in-person parent time. I’m now enjoying the last 5% of that time. We’re in the tail end.”
Right. No amount of mini marshmallows is going to solve for that.
Oddly, though, as I have thought about this sobering visualization, it has arrested my mental nosedive. The truth is, the limits of time and space create the preciousness in our lives. All good things must come to an end or there wouldn’t be “good things.” The end is exactly what makes the good so good. It is finite. It is limited. It is over. And that is exactly why it is so sweet.
It turns out, I’m willing to make the exchange after all.
And, miraculously, with this picture in mind, I can even see that in a life filled with a limited amount of days, tomorrow is one of them. I get another one tomorrow. And I get to make whatever I want with it. Even the first Monday after a holiday is a gift. A chance to connect and love and grow and try again. There will be minutes to talk and feed and clean and knead and write and console and encourage and change the sheets. There will be time to lift weights and nurse Ethan through the stomach flu and text my older children about the first day of the new semester and kiss my husband fresh from the shower and crumble bacon over the bean soup. Come to think of it, I can hardly wait.
Fear not, the angel said. Good advice on the very first Monday of the year.