This past weekend, it was the screaming that caught my attention while I was finishing our youngest daughters preparation for ballet class. From the back of the ballet school’s dressing room, I could hear the calling of my name. Upon my emerging into the waiting room, I saw little ballerinas facing the oversized glass window. Our daughter Grace held her face and appeared to be in shock. I bolted outside when I caught the words–girl and struck by a car. The few moms that had been prepping their daughters for class and their teacher leaned behind the bumpers of parked cars. We all stood gazing upon the surreal scene of a young student of about eleven or twelve, laying on the asphalt in her pink tights and black leotard while someone held her still. A woman across the street–clung to a man with her eyes covered. Her sobbing lead me to conclude that she was this child’s mother. Hot tears filled my eyes while I stood frozen under an awning. I felt so helpless. A cluster of her fellow classmates looked upon the scene snickering, analyzing, and almost justifying their friends demise. I could feel my face getting warm enough to evaporate most of the wetness away from my eyelids. Thankfully, my gaping mouth shut only after running through the comments inside my head first. Cold staring criticism–come on girls–I’m pretty sure your friend won’t run between the cars and into the street again. She will stop the next time her mother hollers for her and she will look both ways before crossing any road in the future.
I couldn’t stand next to the preteens any longer, they irritated me. So, I made may way back into the waiting room. The ambulance was on the scene and lingered behind my daughter’s silhouette. Grace felt stiff under my arms and tears streaked the cheeks of a ballerina next to me. She sobbed as if the injured girl were her sibling. My hand on her shoulder appeared to calm her. This young lady shared with us about her own cousins slow recovery and brain damage from a careless driver who struck him while riding his bike. She grieved as if the accident happened the day before and she empathized with her ballet friends uncertain future.
I have to ask, why do some live their lives as if they are above calamity and why do others live with gratefulness for every breath? Why do some laugh at the pain of others and some empathize, forgetting about themselves in situations similar to this? In my case, I’ve seen the flip side. I choose to value moments with others as gifts. I remember what walking around in the valley of the shadow of death feels like with my family. We know loss. We remember often that we are not promised tomorrow or the next hour for that matter. We place a high value on the brevity of our days and carry a burden that today matters.
Life can feel so hard at times. I too have grieved for those in my life who have passed away, relationships, and gifts that I held for only a season. My youngest sister died at the age of nineteen, my dad in his early fifties, my Aunt in her early forties, and a five-year-old cousin. For me, loss has also taken the form of a losing a precious foster-son to the care of a drug addicted father, the releasing of close friends after multiple moves, the loss of jobs, the loss of health, and the loss of dreams.
While I can relate to those of you who have walked in these familiar shoes, I want you to know that by God’s grace, I have also chosen to put down my tissue box in an effort to live as if each day is my last. I’ve chosen to seek God and develop my relationship with Him more. I’ll be honest, living in this mindful way takes something that I don’t believe I’ve got a perfect handle on yet, but it’s my aim. My prayer today is that we’ll be re-inspired to ask God for help. I now know that every minute counts–every moment has a purpose in His story. Maybe the next time we see a ballerina, drive through a crowded parking lot, or witness someone struggling to just make it through the day–we’ll be reminded how important moments are. Yes, maybe we’ll be reminded to slow down, pay attention, and love and seek God like tomorrow may never come.