When we were in Memphis last week, I voiced some frustration to my dad over how hard daily living activities are for Virginia. When I watch her suffer through so many simple things, I wonder how we are going to keep her spirit from breaking under the weight of what she endures every day. I was also complaining about how much time and energy it takes just to maintain the status quo.
"Dad, how am I ever going to get anything accomplished?" I wondered out loud. "When is the pace of caring for her going to slow down? When I am going to have time to write my book?"
Dad has a gift of being able to zero in on the truth instantaneously.
"You might not ever write that book, Ab. For all of us on this earth, but particularly you and Findley, it's not about what we've accomplished at the end of our life. It's about how we live every day and celebrate every moment. It doesn't matter where we end up in terms of graduate degrees or number of books published. What matters is how we embrace life along the way. It's the journey that counts, not the destination."
(I want to clarify that Dad meant that our earthly destination doesn't matter, not our heavenly one. Clearly we know our ultimate destination- heaven. And knowing that final destination gives supernatural meaning to what we go through on our earthly journey and should help give us the right perspective on suffering. Knowing what awaits us at the end of our lives should free us from worrying about 'the small stuff,' even when 'the small stuff' is as big as what happened to Virginia. But, unfortunately, my heart and mind don't always work that way.)
Dad eloquently spoke one of the most important lessons Virginia has taught me. To celebrate every moment. I used to be a planner, someone who always waited for the perfect moment to let loose. When Virginia was little, I was so crushed it was hard to smile. I wanted to wait until things got better, until I knew she was going to be okay.
But I have learned that it is my job to seek out every moment of joy Virginia can have. Right now is Virginia's moment and I need to string together as many memorable ones as I can. Today is my best opportunity to make her smile and to seek out her infectious laugh.
My best friend invited us to her family's beach house for a few days last week and I almost said no. We were tired from visiting my parents and the beach is not simple for Virginia. Just getting her down to the ocean is a challenge. But no one loves playing in the waves more than she does. Look at my pictures- Wills is happy, but Virginia is elated. She would play in the waves all day if we were strong enough to hold her for that long.
We eat a lot of ice cream at our house and we have a lot of dance parties. We never pass up a trip to the beach and I am pretty sure that Findley, Virginia and I will retire to Disney World one day. We do all those things because they are things Virginia loves, things she can enjoy. But the truth is that we are all called to live that way. Each day is a gift- make the most of it.
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34