Last week, I attended the memorial service of a friend of mine from college. She was my age (33), she was a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a mentor, a hell of a ball player, and a bright light in any room.
Her dad, who I worked with at the college, always reminded me of my own and so I think that’s why his speech hit me the hardest. He made us all giggle, laugh and remember Natalie in the way that we all should -- with smiles on our faces. But then he finished with a mic drop. (Isn’t that the phrase the kids are using these days?)
He told us that the morning of Natalie’s passing, he had breakfast with her and her littles. He said that, as most parents do, he dishes out hugs and kisses and “I love you’s” when he parts ways with his children and grandchildren. He paused, and told us, with tears running down, that that morning when he left, he didn’t. He didn’t take the 5 seconds it takes to say “I love you,” and hours later, learned that he’d never have the chance again.
This broke me and everyone else in the room, and likely you right now. I felt shattered and so called out. I’m a single, working mom to a five year old and 18 month old and our life is pretty damn chaotic most of the time. We’re running around, doing drop offs and pick ups and homework and meals and I too, give hugs and kisses and say “I love you;” but there are times, amongst the chaos, that I forget. This reminder was gut-wrenching, but so important.
The morning after the memorial service, my daughter asked for pancakes. I hesitated. Pancakes are for weekends, when you have more time. But then I thought of Natalie, and I decided to take the extra time. I made the pancakes and we had a dance party before we got dressed and I signed her into school at 9:07. Guess what? The smile on her face was well worth the wagging fingers and the dirty dishes I left in my sink as I corralled them out the door.
So to my fellow moms, I’m giving you this gentle reminder: Life is chaos, but it’s beautiful chaos. Don’t forget to say “I love you.” Take the time for another hug. Stop for a second to breathe them in. Laugh until your stomach hurts. Get on the floor, on their level.. Snuggle in a little closer. Make the pancakes. Play hooky. Tomorrow is not a guarantee.