The day had drawn long, as summer nights often do, and we could hear the early chirps of evening crickets. For some reason, I was especially tired that evening and was tempted to disappear into the shade of a nearby tree to rest while the kids finished their BBQ at the foot of our secret woods.
I had a lot on my mind that day and I suppose wanting time for myself was justified. For reasons I couldn't explain, I felt like I needed to stick around and give Mitch my time and attention. So I set aside my fatigue and gave my son more of my time and attention. I have never regretted that decision.
I smiled when Mitch said, "Dad, don't you just love corn on the cob? I think that guy on Nacho Libre was right. It's the best." Then he dug into his third corn on the cob. When he was done eating, we went to a nearby park and played on the swing. At first glance, it was an ordinary moment spending time as father and son - but looking back, I see that exchange differently.
I had always heard the saying: "The best time to fix the roof is when the sun is shining." I've discovered that same principle holds when it comes to preparing for life's hardships. To be clear, I don't think it's possible to truly prepare for the death of a child, for that is bewildering beyond imagination. But we can prepare for difficult times in other ways.
At least for me, special memories that I created with Mitch and my other children now serve as buoys when I'm tempted to drown in a sea of grief. Though I may be treading the unavoidable waves of grief - those little moments of joy serve to lift my sinking heart and keep my head above water.
At the same time, I don't think the decision to spend time with loved ones should be motivated by the fear of loss. If one really thinks about it, we are losing everything we know to time, anyway. Tomorrow things may seem the same, but it will be slightly different. And so time goes. A year from now, our lives will be more different, still. How often do we look back on our lives and say with a gasp, "Where did the time go?" As far as I can tell, whether we're losing our loved ones to death or time, the net effect is the same - tomorrow will be different ... you will never have now again.
Spending time and making moments matter, on the other hand, is sweetest when it's motivated by love. And the best way to prepare for life's storms is to make a mansion of memories, while the sun is shining.
Whenever I'm especially sad, I tap into that reserve of good memories which then serve as a healing agent, a means of getting centered and most importantly, a way to stay grateful. Then, the sun will shine a little, even if it rains.