Tag Archives: Love

The Lives We Live

When I was young, and even as I grew older, I believed we had one life to live. I suppose, in a literal sense, that’s still true, but I’ve come to understand that there is a difference between life, and the lives we live within that life.

The transitions are so gradual that we don’t always know they’re happening. But one day, when we choose to stop for more than a few moments and look back at the different phases our lives have visited , we realize the person in that photo may not think or act the same; may not believe what he or she once did when they were innocently smiling at the camera.

When we’re young we live a life of innocent freedoms. Days that never end, summers that last forever, years that we trust will always be there. School is a double decade that gradually introduces us to less freedom, some stress and relationships with family and friends that have the power to shape and influence our lives forever. We were born into these first twenty years and when the transition into “adulthood” happens, we head into it as a continuation of what we know, combined with changes to our daily life and schedules, but never really looking back. Well, maybe when loss rears its ugly head, when we find that we have to navigate the future without someone we always thought would be there for us. We may take a moment to look back then. To remember what was.

But there are things to do. A life to live. Or at least this part of our life. We have jobs, sometimes marry, sometimes begin families and for the next twenty or so years, become that person. We live that life of advancing our careers or attempting to keep our jobs. If we’re married and have children, we run as if the next event, game, concert, field trip, party, sleepover or dance is life altering.  Until it abruptly stops, and children go to college or find a job and hopefully move out.

And we transition again.

Sometimes this change is a little more noticeable. Sometimes we pause a little longer. Our families grow smaller before they get bigger. Family celebrations are different because some of the people at the center of those celebrations are no longer with us. So we sometimes move to other homes and begin different traditions. Our mornings are a little more quiet, our evenings require less running and we find more time for ourselves to enjoy this part of our lives. If we’re fortunate, our working lives begin to wind down and we find time to appreciate time.

If we’re lucky.

These lives we live change us in different ways. Our centers become different or altered at times. Our judgments, mindsets, and beliefs all find different ways or equations to the answers in front of us. Hopefully our core values remain the same but that’s never a given. We may want to believe we are the same person today as we were twenty or thirty years ago, but we aren’t. In truth, how can we be? We’ve lived and lost too much. We’ve gained new experiences, travelled, developed new friendships, learned new ways and came to appreciate the lives we live now, more than ever.

I look back at old photos now and wonder what that boy or young man was thinking of at the time, what his day was like and what he was looking forward to tomorrow. I wonder if he had a plan or dream that day. I wonder what was making him laugh in that moment, why he chose to buy that ugly shirt and when he was going to finally get a haircut.  I wonder if he would change anything if he knew everything.

Personally, I believe he wouldn’t change a thing.

P.S. I’ll be back soon.

 

 

Empty Mansions

A couple of years ago, while visiting a small book store in Newport Rhode Island, I came across an interesting book titled, Empty Mansions. I didn’t buy it then but strangely enough, my brother gave it to me as a gift several months later. I always meant to read it but for some reason it sat on my reading shelf for over a year.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago and one of the blogs I really enjoy following is Book Club Mom. If you’ve never visited, I highly recommend giving her a look. Barbara does a terrific job reviewing all kinds of books and opening up interest where none existed before.
Coincidently, she reviewed Empty Mansions just as I was beginning to think it might be a good time to read it.

I have included the link to Barbara’s review of the book below since I could never do it as well as she did. In short, it is a story of Huguette Clark, an incredibly wealthy woman, who owned and maintained palatial homes in California, New York and Connecticut, though some remained empty and not visited for over fifty years. It’s the story of a woman who, in spite of her wealth, lived the last twenty years of her life in a simple hospital room, despite being in excellent health. She was 104 when she died, choosing to live in the strangest form of seclusion.

But there is much more which you will find here….

https://bvitelli2002.wordpress.com/2013/12/29/empty-mansions-is-the-story-of-huguette-clarks-reclusive-life/

One of the things which touched me the most and, in some ways, helped me to understand Huguette, was an old French fable titled, The Cricket.  Sometimes it is called, True Happiness and is included at the end of the book. It was written in the late 1700’s by Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian.

The Cricket

A poor little cricket
Hidden in the flowery grass,
Observes a butterfly
Fluttering in the meadow.
The winged insect shines with the liveliest colors;
Azure, purple and gold glitter on his wings;
Young , handsome, foppish, he hastens from flower to flower,
Taking from the best ones.
Ah! says the cricket, how his lot and mine
Are dissimilar! Lady Nature
For him did everything, and for me nothing.
I have no talent, even less beauty;
No one takes notice of me, they know me not here below;
Might as well not exist.
As he was speaking, in the meadow
arrives a troop of children,
Immediately they are running
after this butterfly, for which they all have a longing.
Hats, handkerchiefs, caps serve to catch him.
The insect in vain tries to escape.
He becomes soon their conquest.
One seizes him by the wing, another by the body;
A third arrives and takes him by the head.
It should not be so much effort
To tear to pieces the poor creature.
Oh! Oh! says he cricket, I am no more sorry;
It costs too dear to shine in this world.
How much I am going to love my deep retreat!
To live happily, live hidden.

The fable, which was a favorite of Huguette, has a powerful lesson.

The book is both fascinating, and sad.

If You Make One Resolution This Year…..

Some of you may have noticed that I have been absent from our blogging world since the end of November. Then again, some may have not noticed at all…) I understand either way…) Unfortunately, sometimes life gets in the way and prevents us from following our normal routines or pleasures. In this case, the reason is breast cancer.

My wife was given the diagnosis in early December, had surgery a few days before Christmas and will begin treatment shortly. The good news is that the tumor was small and we caught it early. The not so good news is that chemo and radiation is ahead of us, but the outlook is very promising.

My purpose in writing this post is not so much for us, though prayers and good wishes are always welcome. My purpose is to let you know that this cancer was caught very early through a yearly mammogram. Because it was so small and deep, it could not be felt through self-examination or by a doctor, only through a  mammography.

Her decision to be tested yearly probably saved her life. My hope is that my words here may encourage someone out there to go for a test they may have put off for too long. Whether it’s a mammogram, colonoscopy, yearly physical, blood work, dermatologist visit or whatever else you should be checking, please take the time to take care of yourself.

I don’t know if anyone dislikes going to a doctor or for tests more than me. It’s unnerving, stressful and easy to convince yourself that you’re feeling fine and don’t need to rock the boat when the waters are calm. But we recognize, in time, that waters don’t always stay calm.
I also recognize that some people don’t believe in tests as a preventative tool and I’ll be the first to admit that not all tests are necessary. So let’s get that excuse out-of-the-way and focus instead on those tests that may save your life. You know what they are.

If you don’t want to do it for yourself, then do it for those who care about you. Do it so you have no regrets. No what ifs. Do it so you have the joy of living life to its fullest, even if that means a test reveals a detour that takes time away from the things you planned. Do it so you have many more days to make plans. Do it because you understand that while time is a depreciating asset and we can’t control everything in life, there are things we can do that just might help us, help ourselves.

I recognize this is not an uplifting post and it’s a topic we sometimes shy away from. But I’m hoping these words encourage just one person to make a phone call and do what you’ve been putting off. Making the appointment is the hardest part. Don’t wait.

Do it for those you love.

Carter

It was the end of the school day and the second grade class I was a substitute for that day was packed up and waiting to be called for their individual buses. Some were talking, some were playing games and some were showing off a bit, as second graders sometimes do.

When I looked over at Carter, he had a piece of construction paper out and was drawing what looked to be a card. Curious, I walked over and asked him what he was making. He told me it was a card for his mom. I asked him if it was for a special occasion, her birthday or something else but he just shook his head, smiled a little and said, “I just want to make her a card, but I don’t know what to write.”

I kneeled down next to him and asked him what he wanted to say. He looked at me and said, “I want to thank her for what she does for me.” I told him that was nice of him and maybe he can think of two or three things to write that stand out the most. He turned away from me, stared out the window and said, “She does everything for me. I don’t know how to write that.”

Before I could answer him or suggest some words, his bus was called and he had to leave. As I was driving home behind a school bus, I was wondering how his card would turn out and what he might write. Then the school bus stopped and I saw Carter step off, run over to a young woman, wrap his arms around her waist and press his head against her.

Maybe he finished the card that night, maybe the next day. Maybe he found the words he needed or maybe he’s still working on it. I’m not sure. But I smiled when I saw him hug his mom, not because he wanted to write that card or how his words made me feel. I smiled because…

Carter was home.

 

A Princess And Her Prince

A few weeks ago we were blessed to welcome our sixth grandchild, Taylor, into our family. She recently turned a month old and, like her sister at the same age, enjoyed a little photo shoot with her favorite pillow rest, Bailey.

Her birth reminded me of one of my favorite poems by the French poet, Yves Bonnefoy. I thought I’d share part of it with you…

The All, The Nothing

Its the last snow of the season,
The spring snow-the most skilled
At mending the rips in the dead wood
Before it’s brought inside and burnt.

It’s the first snow of your life,
Since yesterday there were only dots
Of color, brief pleasures, fears, chagrins-
Without substance for lack of words.

And I can see joy overtaking the fear
In your eyes which amazement opened
In one great, bright leap; this cry, this laughter
That I love, and that I ponder….

May the big snow be for you, the all, the nothing,
Child trying out your first uncertain steps in the grass,
Your eyes still full of the origin,
Hands grabbing at nothing but the light.

May the gleaming branches be the words
You’ll have to listen to, not understanding
The meaning of their silhouette against the sky-
Otherwise you’d only name them at the price of losing.

May these two values, one sparkling, be enough for you,
Of the hill glimpsed through the opening between the trees,
Bee of life, when in your dreams of the world,
The world itself grows quiet.

And may the water that wells up in the shadow
Show you that joy can survive in dream,
Even when a breeze from who knows where
Is already scattering almond blossoms-and yet the other snow.

Enjoy a blessed life, Taylor

 

The Things We Don’t Say

Nothing haunts us like the things we don’t say.
Mitch Albom

This is not an elephant in the room kind of thing where the problem we all acknowledge keeps getting pushed under the carpet. This is more about an unspoken hug. It’s about the things we don’t say because we don’t know if the person we care about wants to hear them or if the words are just inadequate.

It’s about love, and pain. It’s about hurt, and loss. It’s about moments that stay with us forever but never get acknowledged once we’ve moved past them.

It’s about remembering, and forgetting. It’s about understanding, and learning. It’s about wanting to put your arms around someone you care about and tell them you can’t begin to understand their hurt or loss but you think about them everyday. It’s about wanting to let them know that you see past the smile.

This is about learning to live with the kind of loss that is not openly discussed. It’s about what if, and never was. It’s about what you can’t get back, and what you can’t let go.

It’s about remembering.

It’s always about remembering.

So when I walked over and hugged you the other day for no apparent reason , it was my way of letting you know that I remember, too. That I wish things were different for you. For all of us. Because for as  long as the people who love you have breath, you’ll never be alone.

And if there comes a time when you feel that words might bring you a sense of comfort, I’ll know before you begin speaking.

And I’ll see you there.