Last week, my friend’s husband died unexpectedly, leaving two young children without a father. The same day, my neighbor’s bandmate and the bandmate’s fiancé were in a horrific car accident and are now in comas.
This news really shook me up. That life is short is hardly a revelation; in the past two years alone, I’ve lost several people close to me, all too soon. I know that as the years go on, tragedy becomes more and more common. But it never does become less painful, does it?
The saving grace in all this loss is that I’m reminded that every day on this planet is a good day. Even when my kids are up four times in one night and I can’t see straight the next morning. Even when I get a nasty email about me—which was intended for someone else—and it makes me feel like crap. (Yep, that really happened). Even when I find out something sad about a friend or family member.
With this in mind, I just bought myself a block print from an Etsy seller. It’s the last two lines from The Summer Day (below), a poem by Mary Oliver. I plan to hang the print in my office; doesn’t it exactly capture how important it is to savor every moment of life?
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?