“Death plucks my ear and says, ‘Live for I am coming’.”
Virgil (Publius Vergilus Maro)
Trans. From Latin by Oliver Wendell Holmes
In 2007, I picked up the book, “For One More Day,” by Mitch Albom. A few pages in I was captured by one powerful line, “One day can bend your life.” It stopped me in my tracks; took my breath away. I put the book down and journaled that day.
In an instant, like a nail hit against steel or a crumpled piece of paper, life can go from comfortably familiar to only somewhat recognizable, a mere shadow of its previous shape. This idea of the fleeting nature of what is here right now did not escape me.
This powerful and seemingly obvious idea encourages living in the moment, presence, gratitude for this moment, no regrets... We all know this; and then we forget. It’s all appointments, full calendars, work, kids, money, distractions, stress, anger, fear, plans for later… when it’s more convenient, when there’s more money, when there’s more time. It’s ok, it’s all theory anyway, push forward, I’m in control, I have a plan.
Then, one day…
Tropical vistas, warm breezes.
Yoga, Rhum, bonding.
Norwegian airlines. Take off.
Queue of patient Americans wait to be waived back in.
Luggage goes round.
Subway, locked door, lunch, laundry.
the phone rings
Who are you? what?
I don’t understand.
Are you sure?
Phone calls, texts flying.
Have to get there, be there.
One day bent our lives
Our way, plans, perspectives, habits, days.
One day, one phone call, one moment.
Now there is life pre heart attack and life post heart attack. I don’t know if that marker ever dissipates. What I do know, is that Ted’s heart attack changed so many things that it doesn’t matter, and there’s only going forward from here.
In his book, “More Beautiful Than Before,” the Rabbi of our Temple, Steven Leder, writes about the profound influence tragedy and pain play in our lives and says this: “Survive, heal, and grow when your heart or body aches. What was beautiful when whole is beautiful when broken too. And this: “…we can heal enough, we can somehow find our true selves again – or for the first time – and what we find really is often gentler and wiser and more beautiful than before. A second love. A second chance. Another way to walk forward.”
And so it is, we walk forward, and this time on an actual treadmill, every day.
What would you do today if you knew that tomorrow your life was going to bend?
I will continue to do my best to recognize and appreciate as many moments every day as I can, to do more of what brings me joy and less of what doesn’t. And I will start to gratefully plan our Anniversary trip to Spain and France. No regrets.
photos by Lynne Harris Bernstein © 2018