You just discovered you have fifteen minutes to live.
1. Set a timer for fifteen minutes.
2. Write the story that has to be written.
(Author:Â Gwen Bell)
It’s about love, after all. If I have only 15 minutes to live, then I want to tell my son that the meaning of life really is love. I’ve seen some amazing things and had an interesting career but in the end, nothing was as interesting or amazing as falling in love with your dad and then, watching as we both fell in love with you. It’s the oldest cliche in the world – “all you need is love” – but cliches are what they are because they’re true.
I had a friend who was onceÂ trying to help me get out of a funk. She wanted me to start a business I was passionate about. She had me list things in life that got me excited. I found that the very idea of being totally passionate about something was odd to me. The only thing I was passionate about, I told her, was finding a wonderful husband. That was an embarrassing admission, but true. I think she was disappointed in me. At any rate, it gave me clarity and not long after that, I met your dad and came to know true, deep, meaningful love.
“Go big or go home” is another cliche that I’ve found to be useful. In almost all my worthwhile endeavors, I did them big, I did them hard, I did them deep. When I was sad, I sobbed for years, not minutes. When I was happy, my smile nearly broke my face. I never drank but if I did, I assure you, I would have been a drunk. I remember friends in my early 20s who couldn’t stop talking about college, like it was the best time of their lives and it was all downhill from there. I never missed college. I did college. Big time. Parties, sorority, dates, hook-ups (although we didn’t call them that back then), and yes, I studied and graduated on time. I thoroughly immersed myself in the collegiate experience and so, when I was done, I was done.
I hope when my life is done I feel the same way. No remorse.
In my last 15 minutes, I want you to know that life just happens. People spend so much time being cautious, trying to avoid risk or failure. Don’t do that. Just don’t. You will fail. You will get your heart broken. And here’s the thing: no matter how hard you try to control your life, those “bad” things are still going to happen. So I suggest you get used to that idea now. Things will happen. Some of them good, some of them bad. It’s all part of life. Enjoy the good, rail against the bad, but know that it’s normal. If there’s a lesson to be learned, try and learn it the first time. Life has a way of repeating itself.
And now, an admission: Â I lived terrified I would die too young and leave you without a mother. That is one of the hazards of having a baby at an older age. I told myself that the trade-off for you would be worth it: you have parents who are more stable (mentally and financially), who can afford to spend time with you and send you to good schools. But in the end, I probably won’t get to meet my grandchildren and that makes me very, very sad.
You, however, make me very, very happy. You have the brightest smile and best laugh. At just 2.5, I am impressed with how sweet you are. You’re kind and smart and curious and generous and already more than I could have hoped for.
In my last 15 minutes, I want you to know that I suck at math. I tried and had some years where I did OK through sheer hard work, but it’s really not my thing. I am a better writer than this little note would indicate. The timer doesn’t really bother me (I worked in television under crazy deadlines so I’m used to that) but hearing you wake up from your nap, crying out for me, means I’m going to have to stop before the timer goes off.
It’s about love, after all. And I love you and could care less about finishing this assignment properly.
*Iâ€™m participating in aÂ blogosphere writing challenge: for the next 30 days (starting today), I will be responding to a provocative question/prompt. Itâ€™s all part of a celebration of Ralph Waldo Emersonâ€™s book â€œSelf-Reliance,â€ which Iâ€™m not sure Iâ€™ve even read. IÂ â€™m not doing this because Iâ€™m a big Emerson fan â€“ although I suppose Iâ€™ll have to download some of his stuff to the Kindle now â€“ Iâ€™m doing this because my friend, Alicia (hereâ€™s her blog), tagged me in a Facebook post, which is our generationâ€™s version of a dare. And Iâ€™m never one to let a good dare go unchallenged . . .