“I’m so sorry about your grandmother,” the message read. My heart sank. I immediately knew my grandmother had passed away.
I quickly called my mom. “Mom, did grandma pass away?” I asked trying to keep my voice calm and hoping I was wrong. “Yes,” the voice on the other end said. There was silence. I immediately blamed myself.
A few months ago we had put my grandmother in a skilled nursing facility due to her quickly advancing Alzheimer’s. Everything had changed over night. She had gone into the hospital for a small, outpatient procedure and never came back the same. She woke up from the anesthesia a totally different person. All of the sudden she had dementia and Alzheimer’s, and a quickly advancing one at that. It had been a week that I hadn’t seen her. I knew her days were numbered. I had thought about going to visit her before my girls’ weekend trip but just like most days, I let the busyness and the endless to-do list get in the way. I’ll go see her after I come back, I thought to myself.
Isn’t this what we always do? Allow the little, unimportant things get in the way of big, important things?
Except now, I was sitting in the back of my friend’s car, as she drove back from our weekend trip, reading a condolence message. How could I let this happen? What did I have to do the day before I left for the trip that was so important? I couldn’t even remember what I spent my time doing.
I made a silent vow to myself, right there in the back of my friend’s car, that people will always come first. I won’t wait until I make a certain amount of money before I take a break. I won’t wait until I have everything crossed off my to-do list before I visit a loved one. I won’t make excuses for why I can’t do what sets my heart on fire. We won’t get to the end of our lives and wish we had worked more, crossed more things off of our to-do list, or made more money. The thing that we will long for is more time with those that we love and more time to do what brings us joy.
The message that I received in the car that day was a defining moment for me. I could have let the guilt and blame of not visiting my grandmother before my trip pull me back or I could use it to push me forward. I made a vow to create deeper connections with people; I made a vow to love more; I made a vow to get rid of the things that don’t matter and focus on those that do. And I made a vow to help other women do the same.
Life is always happening FOR us. Every single moment is an opportunity to learn, to become better and to choose again. How will you let that moment define you?