I had cancer surgery when I was 29. I realized then how the little things in life count. The woman in intensive care next to me died unexpectedly of a heart attack. She was about my age. Three weeks after her death I met her mother, who shared some of her daughter’s insights with me over a cup of tea. It was late afternoon and sunlight streamed through the windows of her simple furnished room. She moved some figurines from the table and set the cup of tea in front of me. She sat facing me from across the table.
With a gentle look of reflection she paused and said, “Before you leave, I would like to share a thought about my child. My daughter believed that each of us is put here to learn, share, love, appreciate and give of ourselves. None of us knows when this fantastic experience will end. It can be taken away at any moment. Perhaps this is God’s way of telling us that we must make the most out of every single day. “I would like you to make me a promise. From now on, when you look out of the window, find something beautiful to notice. It doesn’t have to be something you see, it could be a scent of freshly baked bread wafting from someone’s house. It could be the sound of the breeze rustling the leaves in the trees, or the way the morning light catches one autumn leaf as it falls to the ground. Maybe you look at the rising sun with joy and awareness. Gather the vibrant colors of spring in your mind and remember the scent. Feed a bird or stroke a cat, smile at a baby whenever you have a chance. Please, just look for these things and cherish them. For, although it may sound trite to some, these things are the stuff of life and in all of them you find a gentle meaning. The little things are put here on earth to enjoy. The things we often take for granted. We must make a point to notice them for at any time…they can all be taken away.”
I was moved and put at ease. I left quietly reflecting on the fact her simple house was filled with a beauty I had not known. Silently, and with a smile on my face, I thanked her before I left. Her flowing face, her gentle smile seemed filled with a golden glow which came from inside.
“I am not sorry that it was my daughter who died. I am happy you lived.”
Stunned by these remarks from a person I had never met before I asked her why? She answered, “My daughter knew all these things and cherished them, but you need to see and learn to feel life.”
This line never left my mind. I began to notice more things every day after that. Every once in a while I think of that mother who was so selfless and remember what an impression she made on me. I try to appreciate her kindness by being like her. With her word ingrained I never overlook or miss a chance to see the beauty in life and give thanks for it.
As we get older we often don’t regret what we did, but what we didn’t do. Love life and everything in it and it will treat you the same way in return.
May 1996. It was about 5:30 p.m. when my husband came to the tailor store to tell me I had to close early because he wanted to go to choir rehearsal early. We only had one car and he normally picked me up after closing time of 7 p.m.. I had only been in business seven months and couldn’t believe he would have me close early. I was expecting a customer at six. I told him no, I wouldn’t close early. He yelled that all I cared about was the business. He went on and on until I put the book I held down and in a sharp tone said, “Who do you think you are to yell at me?”
His face turned red and he lunged at me, “Woman I will knock you down!”
“Go right ahead,” I said and meant it.
I knew at that moment I would not give in, fear or not. I raised my head and looked him straight in the eyes. “You can not frighten me.”
He turned and walked out. Up to this point I had never said no to either my husband or my father. That was a turning point. I knew I needed to continue to find the source of my strength.