I remember the moment clearly. A few weeks ago, after an already hectic day, I took my kids to the playground and started calculating the remaining day’s schedule in my head:
“It’s 4:22. I’ll let them play until 4:40 and then start the countdown. We’ll start getting in the car at 4:45, and leave by 4:50. I’ll drive home and arrive at 5:00, scoop up the cat for her vet appointment with some snacks for the kids, be at the vet’s parking lot by 5:10 and unloaded at at her door by our appointment time of 5:15.”
The timing worked perfectly. We were on time. I dropped by the house, called my cat’s name and she came running. I threw some treats in her carrier and picked her up and placed her inside. We were back on the road in moments.
25 minutes later, we’d leave the veterinarian’s office without my cat.
I hadn’t planned on that whatsoever. It wasn’t on the schedule.
My 16-year-old cat was so agitated at the vet they couldn’t get her out of the carrier for an exam. After explaining her symptoms, the vet gently told me that with her age and symptoms she was most likely experiencing organ failure.
The decision was made. We said goodbye. I couldn’t even give her one last cuddle because she wouldn’t let anyone near her cage. I tried to get the kids to say goodbye too but the could hardly get the words out with the hissing. My cat had always been difficult and feisty, even to the end– though somehow I hadn’t expected the end to be this way.
I knew this day would come. But when I first put her in the carrier, I wasn’t paying attention. I didn’t realize that would be the last time I’d hold her. I called, she came, and I was the cause of her fate. It was the right choice, there was no doubt– but for days I could not forgive myself for not attempting that last snuggle, that last words of quiet goodbye, that last meal of tuna she loved so much.
I few days later I was scrubbing dishes when I glanced up and saw the pinkest sunset.
I managed to snap a photo before it totally slipped away. Had I looked up 30 seconds later, I would have missed the glorious pink sky.
Life is busy. Lately, the small moments that matter most sometimes escape me.
On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, we loaded up the cars and headed down to Longwood Gardens. If you haven’t been to visit a Longwood Christmas yet, it’s truly magical. However, with two preschoolers and two of my parents to keep track of, it’s easy to focus on logistics instead of the small things. It took me a few minutes to even realize what I was looking at in the main conservatory:
APPLES. Those are apples. 18, 540 to be exact. I almost missed it.
As we rushed through the Christmas tour in the conservatory, we stopped for a quick moment in the rose room so my mom could rest on a bench. We’d been bombarded by gorgeous vistas, displays, pathways, and more– it was almost overwhelming. I turned to my left, and there it was– a 6-foot tree made entirely of pinecones. It hit me: how many details like this have I missed? How many pinecone trees? How many apples?! Obviously I can’t stop to smell each rose (and pinecone, and apple…) but probably I need to slow down and just BREATHE once in awhile.
We hosted my entire immediate family the week of Thanksgiving. Our home was full. My heart was bursting. I barely picked up a camera, or the laptop, or my phone. Focusing felt wonderful.
The lesson I learned was the need to pay more attention. Instead of calculating our schedule down to the minute, I should have been sliding down the slide. I should give cat snuggles no matter what. I need to watch the sunset while doing dishes. And instead of rushing through Christmas preparations, I need to slow down and enjoy them. Watch the glow of my kids’ faces in the Christmas lights instead of trying to make sure each strand is perfectly placed.
I’m paying more attention this season. Listening to whispers instead of shouts. Ignoring the flashes in front of my eyes and opting for the small sparkles.
It’s the sparkles that make life glorious.
No more counting minutes, because truthfully, there will never be enough of them.
What message is speaking to you right now? Anyone else trying to pay more attention this week, this month, this year?