I remember when my children were little and one would fall ill to a fever, a cold, a tummy ache. I would put everything aside and tend to my patient. I loved showering them with special care: checking temperatures, serving popsicles, reading favorite books like Frog and Toad are Friends, or just rocking a somnolent child.
I would drop everything and concentrate on what I knew was most important. As much as I did not like my children to be sick, I did love those times when I could give them my full attention and an extra measure of TLC. During those days, it was easy to postpone all my other demands.
Most of life, however, isn’t so clear cut. Our lives are filled to the brim with activities and obligations. Knowing what to do first is often a challenge. I have — more times that I like to admit — wandered around my house wondering what task to attack next.
But sometimes life is clear — and you know exactly what your top priority is.
For me, the past seven months have been that way as I helped care for my mother who was slipping away from us. It was a hard time and a sweet time, a time to measure what was important and to focus on what really mattered. It was a time to put everything else aside, including writing.
Caring for a parent with increasing needs can be exhausting — and it was, at times —mentally and physically. But it forced my sister, my brother and me to delay our personal goals and readjust our days and priorities. It was a realignment that was clear and purposeful.
Now Mom is gone. And just as when my children grew healthy and strong again, I can resume the pursuit of my own goals and dreams. I will get back to writing, to editing the next book, to plotting another — and I will get back to a host of other projects I had put on hold.
As I move forward, it is with no regrets and no angst over the time lost. Quite the opposite. Instead my future looms with sweet memories to ponder, with new ideas to savor and, like a good writer, with new stories to record. These past seven months, when my priorities shifted, when something greater than my own ambition called, were a gift — the gift of life interrupted.
And I will be forever grateful for the interruption.