The bible uses the expression, “in the blink of an eye” to describe a moment in time in which a drastic change instantly takes place. Time is a funny thing and truly can change in an instant. How do we know when we do something that it’s the last time we are doing it? We don’t. Some are small, seemingly insubstantial moments in time that become the last simply because time moves on.
I think about moments I cherished in my childhood, how my mother lovingly stroked my forehead when I wasn’t feeling well, or how my father read to me and said a prayer with me every night before I went to sleep. When was the last time she touched my forehead, did I have a fever? Was I eight, or twelve, or fifteen? What was the date of the last day my father read to me, that we all the sudden deemed I was too old? Did we know it was the last time? Was it just a natural progression? What was the last book we read? My sister and I used to take baths together when we were little, laughing, drawing on the tub with our Avon bathtub crayons, and hosting cooking shows making egg rolls out of washcloths and “special sauce” (or shampoo…much to my mothers dismay as we probably used a whole bottle each bath). This was probably why I used to love giving Geneva, my niece, a bubble bath. We would sit and sing, make bubble beards, and carefully rinse her her hair with a cup and a cloth over here eyes to avoid any teary “shampoo in the eye” moments. But at some point she got old enough to take baths by herself. I remember that eventually my sister grew older, wanting to take her own baths, and the bright cheerful bathroom became dark, echoey, and lonely. But when was our last bath? When did I last bathe Neva, what song did we sing, and did I take a picture of her bubble beard? Moments that we take for granted vanish in the blink of an eye.
Last week we took our nieces to Disney World and as we neared the exit, we passed the aftermath of what we could tell was a horrible car accident. The road was still covered in debris and on the shoulder were two cars that were a rusty brown, burnt to almost nothing, like something out of a movie. The butcher looked up the crash later online based on our location. It had happened in the middle of the night and the car most severely burnt was a Mercedes SUV from out of state carrying a young married couple and their infant daughter. The couple died in the car and the baby girl was thrown from the vehicle and died at the hospital. The other driver, who was intoxicated, of course survived with minor injuries. As my husband recanted this awful tragedy to me, I thought about this family, probably traveling through the night to take their little girl to Disney for the first time. Did they cherish those moments in the car that would unknowingly be their last?
I thought of ourselves on that same road, holding my husbands right hand as he drives with his left, glancing at his handsome profile as he focuses on the road, staring amusedly at the one grey hair which has recently appeared in his sideburns, the one he refuses to let me cut because, “it’s cool”. Singing songs with the girls and telling them stories about our childhood (which weren’t really that exciting but they love hearing stories) chuckling at Geneva’s sweet innocence as she’s always in her own world, and hanging on every word Mahal says, marveling at how incredibly smart she is and knowing as she gets older the words will become less and less.
If a drunk driver had hit us at that moment, can I remember the song we were singing together, or the last question they asked me, or which eye my husband winked at me with, the wink that still to this day after nine years, gives me butterflies in my stomach. Could I remember? Probably not. But I do know that I intend to start being more present, taking notice of each moment as it’s passing and cherishing each and every one, before I blink and they’re gone.