Currently I’m binge eating graham crackers dipped in hot tea and watching the snow float around from the kitchen window. There is a fire flickering in the wood stove and the dogs get up every 30 minutes or so to bark at the tire swings that sway in the wind.
Over the last week here in Keystone, South Dakota I’ve made beef stew, roasted chicken and sweet potatoes, an apple pie omelette, chicken soup and lots and lots of hot tea. I’ve explored the property that butts up against national forest like a child, a terrier and a poodle in tow that are too much like Tigger and Eeyore. I’ve slept for 10 hours at a time, watched the sunrise every morning, and stared at the profile of a dead white dude carved in stone.
The ghost of Thanksgiving past has paid me a visit, reminding me that I find myself in nearly the exact same crossroads I was at ten years ago. A new life, a boy, a boy, a job, an old dream resurrected. The only way to lose for sure is to go backward. The ghost of Thanksgiving present showed me that the only happiness, the only way to squeeze joy from this life, is to live for right now, this moment, no matter how twisted and seemingly polluted it may be. The ghost of Thanksgiving future flashes me the peace sign and laughs it up.
I’m about to be visited by a ghost of a different kind. Knowing it will be the last chance to share a meal together, the last time for a walk, to decorate the Christmas tree, to go on a road trip, with the clock ticking away at this second coming.
As if rising from the dead, this person strolls back into the frame of my life. I’d like to say I’d be like Jesus and wash his feet or some shit but I’m no son of God. I have a sassy mouth and get distracted from reality by preparing meals and worrying about how much ice is on the road. I have gray hairs and a bumpy butt and a little girl voice. I don’t like fast adventure sports. Day dreams consume me regularly. I expect more from the world than I give it. I eat weird food. I’ll make you stay out all night sometimes because I’m trying to catch a moment. I don’t like making pancakes and am mean in the morning. I drink too much coffee and don’t like excuses. I’m a roller coaster and a scaredy cat and am thirsty for life all the time. Paranoia about imperfection has clearly set in.
But if this really were the last day, the last chance, it would go something like this: hot coffee while studying road maps in the morning, a long talk about the meaning of life with eyes glued to the road, a walk in crunchy snow, a whispered prayer across the plains, singing loud to a snappy song, a dance at midnight when sleep never comes, a heartbeat heard across the room. I’d stop talking about what could be or what could have been and instead make it known that I see you for what you are. Imperfect and broken, whole and beautiful. I’m not going to waste time ridiculing you for mistakes or crying over lost dreams, I’m going to pray that compassion fills my heart, that for once in my life I can stay focused on the day at hand.
Since we are inept at telling what the future holds, I’ll treat these days like they are the last chance to live. The last to laugh over puppy tricks, the last to share road trip snacks, the last to breathe in a view of snowy mountains, the last to share a heart thought, the last to spell it out.
My only regret was that I didn’t take the chance to tell you how much I cared, to show you how much I loved, to prove how much I trusted. This is that last chance, and there is nothing left to do but tell it, show it, prove it.
And now it’s a Wednesday, back in Denver, having survived another holiday and one massive chance to face reality. I’m sitting near the window in a coffee shop with an empty mug and the future in my hands. Having said what I needed to say and shut the door on some old dreams, I can trust that these feet and these hands will press on to do the work that needs working.
If today was the last day, your last chance, to tell someone you cared, what would you say? What words would leave your lips, what song would sputter up from your heart? Let’s say those words and sing those songs and dance the dance. Let’s live this life without fear of fucking up, just do what’s in your heart, you know what’s right.
Goodbye to canyons of regret. Goodbye to sleepless nights, to eating all the chips, to stalking you online. Goodbye to hanging on, to wishing for a different way.
Hello path in front of me. Hello sunny December day, new friends, open doors, feet that walk ahead. Hello moment of moments, I’m here, I see ya.