“Everything is important,” he kept saying as he folded and unfolded the tissue with repetition and laser focus like it was the most important task at hand. Dementia set in a few years before, first revealing itself through forgetting the same route he took for decades and purchasing more of the lunchmeat he just bought the day before. Sometimes he would remember my name. And sometimes he would not. Sometimes he could recall his daughters and his siblings. And other times he needed us to remind him of the life he had lived. But I watched his hands marked with the effects of age and a life well lived as they folded that Kleenex and I hung on his every word, knowing he was saying something I needed to pay attention to.
“Everything is important.”
It wasn't lost on me. It replayed in my pensive mind as I left the hospital that night and walked to the car. As I settled into pajamas and my bed and when I awoke the next morning, still forefront in my mind. Not only his words but the intensity with which he said them.
There are no small things. It’s all relevant. It all matters with a sacredness that we are often dismissive of or disregard. If the great curtain of time and eternity were unveiled before us, I think we would weep at what we miss in the very moments we are in that are unfolding right before our distracted eyes.
Small things like the time I noticed a change in Jasmine’s handwriting. She handed her writing assignment to my husband and proceeded to talk as it laid upon a stack of others. One front sided page of pink colored ink. It seemed like a small thing really. The fact that I no longer needed a magnifying glass to read her handwriting. Always neatly printed and written with the skill of poetic flow and the ability to express her heart in a way that would bring an audience to their feet, but too small and required you to strain your eyes to see.
“I can actually read your handwriting,” I said to her with surprise, but not really thinking much more about it at the moment. A corner of her mouth lifted as her eyes briefly met mine before glancing away. “I know,” she said. “I felt like my voice was too small before.” Before.
Before processing the trauma and years of sexual abuse. Before bravely seeking healing for the memories she used to escape through anger, violence and toxic relationships that only left her more wounded. Who knew that her healing and growth would reveal itself through such a little thing as a change in her handwriting. I almost missed it.
Truth is, I almost miss a lot of moments. Like the quiet in a coffee shop, we are waiting to open to the public. “Will we ever arrive?” my heart often asks. My daughter plays quietly on the blue velvet couch as I wait for the floor to dry after being mopped and the Cranberries play softly on Spotify in the background. In that soft lighting of that quiet sanctuary, I imagine the day when the room will be filled with people. Some working silently on laptops while others chase children or catch up with a friend or a book. I imagine the noise and traffic and exchange of conversation that will fill the place. This moment of waiting and stillness exchanged for something else that is good. I will miss this, I think to myself. So I sit and watch my daughter as she plays and I linger in it all.
“Everything is important.” So I decided to give my blog that name. And today is not the anniversary of the launch or the 100th post or anything seemingly extraordinary like that. It’s just on my heart and I wanted to share.
Life is handing us an invitation to live fully in every moment. Don't merely wait for the "big" moments and miss all the small and simple and beautiful ones in between. Notice what goes unnoticed. Practice the art of paying attention. Wake up to your one and only beautiful life. Even if it's not the one you thought you would be living.
I not only heard you, grandpa. I listened. And you were so right.