There are moments in every day that take my breath away. That choice bite of sandwich from the middle might get chewed and swallowed like all the others if I don’t take a moment to savor the feel of it on my tongue, the way it fills my mouth. An odd blend of pleasure and longing surges over me when I realize THIS bite is the best. None that follow will please me quite like this one, stellar bite.
I’ve experienced countless once-in-a lifetime moments and I regret those I missed. A certain tune will bring back the dance I shared with Nana in her living room forty years ago. A glimpse of Bob’s profile makes me blush with the memory of our first kiss. The taste of our sweetest memories linger, often for a lifetime.
I regret the birthday party I attended but essentially missed, because I was shrouded in a sullen, pubescent haze. I regret not going to Saturday Night Live after-show cast parties in 1977. Our family is in show business and my Aunt Kathy tried to get me to go several times. But I was a waitress and earned half my weekly pay in tips on Saturday nights, so I always turned her down.
Last weekend Bob and I were invited to a Blessingway for our neighbor, Chris and his family. It would be a gathering of close family friends, a wake for a man still living. We accepted without hesitation. Our friend will not wander this earth much longer and we didn’t want to miss an opportunity to walk by his side.
Twenty of us gathered in a remote location as storm clouds gathered. Chris’s wife, Alisa and our hosts Megan and Tim were bustling around, preparing for the ceremony. Megan was barefoot and soon we were, too. Tim helped Chris’s son bring up some fire wood. Chris and I leaned against the warm hood of a car. A rainbow sketched across the eastern horizon.
When all had arrived, we entered the Peace Chamber, a round building with a domed ceiling. Chairs circled a table with photographs from Chris’s life. The family seated themselves opposite the door. Megan proposed we each read a verse from a Native American prayer. We took turns expressing thankfulness for the trees, animals, birds and the four winds. Each verse ended with, “Now our minds are one.”
Many of us had prepared something to say and some would read letters from family who couldn’t be there. We spoke as we were moved to do so. Brooksie went first, singing a song that moved me to tears. For an hour we expressed our love for Chris and his family, molten feelings welding our hearts together. The sun went down outside the door.
Everyone dies but we don’t think about it much until it comes close. Both Bob and Tami thanked Alisa and Chris for bringing an awareness of death to our community. Our friendships are stronger now because we work as one to support our sweet neighbors in their time of crisis.
There are countless moments when the clouds shift, lighting up my world. If I don’t pay attention, they slip right by unnoticed. Chris’ Blessingway was an unforgettable occasion I’m glad I didn’t miss. Joy is made of savored moments. Remember to choose wisely, slow down and taste the best parts.