From August 15, 2009
I just finished reading a very special book, Notes Left Behind, by Brooke and Keith Desserich. It was an inspiring and difficult read, as parents Brooke and Keith journal from the day of diagnosis through the death of their beautiful six-year-old daughter from pediatric brain cancer. The title refers to the wonderful collection of notes that Elena left for them, scattered throughout their home, hidden in bookcases, briefcases, pillow cases, professing her love for her parents and sister. The painful process for these parents to continue on each day as their precious child fought gallantly for her life is heartwarming and heartbreaking.
The book is filled with reminders to parents to embrace each sacred moment you have with your children. Since I work to help children and parents notice the positives amidst the chaos of their everyday lives, the journal spoke to me on so many levels. We never know what tomorrow will bring, therefore it is so important to live each day as if it is the most precious one of your life.
Yesterday, I happened to call a friend at a critical point in her day. She was feeling the stress of life, and my lunch request was her ticket to break from the seriousness and enjoy a part of her afternoon. How it made me smile when, later that evening, I received a voice mail from her stating how valuable our friendship was and that, somehow, I had that sixth sense to call at just the right moment. She shared how important it was for her to make sure I knew all of this. How often do we think these thoughts, and then get on with our busy days? How often are the last words to our children, as they rush out the door in the morning, “You forgot to make your bed!” instead of “I love you and hope you have a great day!” When was the last time you told your spouse how valuable he is in your life, and why? Or called your sister, brother, or parents to let them know you were thinking of them?
Our lives are filled with financial worries, health concerns, parenting woes, relationship struggles, world chaos and day-to-day stress that can overwhelm any one of us at any minute. It would be easy to want to push the alarm button, pull the covers over our heads, and hide out from the new day of potential disasters. But instead, when you wake up tomorrow morning, walk into the bathroom, look into the mirror, and identify your strength. Whether it’s your caring eyes, your engaging smile, your kind, warm heart, or your wonderful pancakes – begin your day excited to share yourself with the world.
When you see your spouse or children for the first time tomorrow morning, don’t focus on the rush to get moving. Instead, cuddle, embrace, and share a warm thought. Most of you reading this will think to yourself, “Who has that kind of time?” Remind yourself that the two minutes of caring and connecting will actually speed up the tired child or create intimate warmth between you and your spouse. These little kindnesses really make a difference!
See what happens when you spend your day letting the people around you know that they have made a positive impact on your day. Thank the grocery clerk for her hard work, standing on her feet all day. Don’t talk on your cell phone while the bank teller waits on you; give him eye contact, and thank him for the good service. Let the car that is anxious to get in front of you do so, and smile as he passes by. Let go of the hostility, anger, rush, and worry, and replace it with patience, gratitude, warmth, and kindness. Feel the tension relax from the lines in your face as you continue this throughout your day. You will find a renewed sense of energy and bounce in your step!
Shifting our focus and attitude does not come easy. It takes practice and patience for us. But if the Desserich’s story has taught me anything, it is that everything we fret about is what we desire when we are facing tragedy in our lives. The bickering between siblings, the mundane chores, the long grocery line – how different do you look at those things when you realize it represents that your family is happy, healthy, or even just with you?