It’s wonderful to be able to live in the moment and appreciate what is happening right now, at this very second. Sometimes, though, this very moment isn’t so great. That is when having something to look forward to can make all the difference.
My dad has been in and out of the hospital for the past year and a half. My parents graduated from the same high school in the same year. They still maintain close friendships with many of their classmates. They never miss their reunions. While visiting my parents on Thursday, Dad told me that he really wanted to go. He said that he hadn’t been out of the house for a year and a half, which isn’t entirely true. But getting out of the house to go to doctor appointments and hospital stays isn’t really getting out at all. He said that he wanted to go to this one because “everybody’ll be dead for the next one. Our class is dropping like flies.” He was joking, but they DID lose quite a few friends over the past couple of years. My mother said she didn’t want to go. I think that is because she just didn’t trust being able to handle Dad should his arthritis decide to kick in full force.
On the drive across town to our house, I made up my mind. My husband knew what I was going to say before I said it. I turned to him and before the words were out of my mouth, he handed me my cell phone. My mother called me back later that night to tell me that Dad was acting like a kid getting ready for his first prom. He had already chosen what to wear and had her iron his shirt. There was a time when I had my dad wrapped. Oh, how the tables have turned!
Last night was The Big Night. I walked in to find my dad in clothes I haven’t seen him wear since before he got sick. He had a look on his face that I haven’t seen in quite some time. At the car, I turned to fold his walker and when I turned back to help him into the car he was already seated and trying to fasten his seatbelt. He walked in to the hotel lobby and was swarmed by friends who hugged and kissed and shook his hand. They were all thrilled to see him and commented on how good he looks. Mom was off with her group of girlfriends, chatting and laughing. I got Dad seated and left to go have dinner with my husband. I told Mom to use her cell phone to call me if they needed to leave early. After dinner my husband and I ran out of things to do, so we decided to just wait in the hotel parking lot, in the car, and talk for an hour. The sound of my cell phone woke us both. My parent’s classmates were getting into their cars. It was 11:00 and the party was over. Past our bedtime, but apparently still early for this group!
I went in to help get Dad to the car, and found him sitting at the table with a group of his friends, talking and laughing. Had I not been to witness the past year and a half I would have refused to believe he had ever been sick.
Be it a reunion, graduation, wedding, new baby, visit from an old friend, we need things to look forward to. For ourselves as well as for our loved ones, the anticipation of something we are excited about means the difference between existing and really living.