Am I living the legacy I want to leave behind? Of all the things I am doing, being, creating, visualizing, etc, the most important “things” are the ones that I created, and the “one” that created me. Sometimes, however, we –(in this case me) – get so caught up preparing for the future we simply forget about today.
When I stop and ask myself what would happen if today my life were taken from me, the following questions come to mind; did I celebrate my life in the little moments as much as I could have or, was I too busy facing the future as the present passed me by?
Looking at our lives through the lens of another’s pain allows us to see the beauty in what we take for granted. What we cast off as annoyance, others may consider precious moments.
There is one such man. Having now recovered from a crack cocaine addiction he finds himself paralyzed by the realization that he will never have children. He is not married – has no significant other – and no one beyond his immediate family (and the few people that he has encountered along the way) will be the wiser that he was even here.
HIV has become his best friend and worst enemy. His “disease” has him “looking better than he has in several years. It has forced him to reprioritize, and take the time to appreciate the “little” things he took for granted before. He does all that he can to live life to the fullest, as he appreciates the beauty of life and the wonder of it all. He must also contend with the possibility that each cold could mean the beginning for the end and face his mortality head on whenever his T-Cell count dips below a certain number.
He spends his time by himself. Life at times for him, is like a spectator sport.
HIV keeps him standing on the sidelines and prevents him from getting in the game. His inability to connect with people has forced him to find his faith. He looks forward to the time he spends singing his praises and giving his cares over to his higher power. He is no longer possessed by his possessions. His life no longer lives him, he lives his life. He does many things that he has never taken the time to do. He does many things most people will get around to when they“get the time, get more money, the kids get bigger, the kids go off to college, when the kids get married, when the bills are paid, when we lose weight, when loan modification papers are signed , when…when.. when.. This man lives in the now – now – now. How fortunate for him that his worlds is unencumbered by anything unconnected to his desire to make sense out of his life. He has faced full blown AIDS and come back. He knows that his time here is limited. Life to him is precious, like a delicate jewel that he feels blessed to have.
We on the other hand, wake with a sense of entitlement.
We complain about, having to do this that and the other thing. We take for granted that we will be here tomorrow to do whatever it is we complain about having to do today. In truth, if our lives are running us it is because we made it so. We can make it any way we desire. I am learning that in many ways.
Tonight, instead of coming in and heading straight to the laundry room, I sat down. I ignored the crumbs on the counter, the trash that was slightly overflowing, and the floor that had not been vacuumed. I did not make a grocery list for tomorrow or plan what we would do or I would accomplish tomorrow. Tonight, the future existed only in the here and now. I danced with my 12yr old son and 10yr old daughter. They laughed as I stumbled through the words to an 80’s song. I listened to my 81yr old mother repeat the news stories that she listened to today. I raced my 16yr old daughter to the table in the formal dining room for the last diet soda. We all listened to my 4yr old daughter tell me that she had to “think” about whether or not she wanted to take a bath and finally laughed when she decided not to. When I felt myself drawn to a song that reminded me of a difficult time with my-ex husband – I glanced at my 15yr old son who, in his spitting image smiled and said simply “I love you Mom.”
It has been my fortunate experience to encounter one such as this HIV positive man who in seeking to make sense of his experience, has unknowingly helped me make sense out of mine. The future is now. The greatest legacy I can leave my children is one of compassion, caring, concern, courage, kindness, and, love. I realized tonight that with all that we have been through – we have been through it all together.©