When I look back at the last 20 years of my life I remember the great, the sad, and the monumental times. I remember these times so fondly because the sad times were heartbreaking, so much so that I still feel the cracks in my heart ache. The good times were so amazing that I can’t help but smile when these moments re-visit me. Then I start to think about the in between times, the moments that fill in the space between the extravagant ones. They are small when they happen, simple, and unexpected. These very same moments are the ones that make up the meaning of life and eventually fill in the cracks. I believe that the small memories are the ones that shape who we are as individuals and are the ones that we miss the most.
I have always heard the saying, “enjoy the simple things in life” or “take time to stop and smell the roses.” I didn’t understand this until I graduated high school three years ago and moved out on my own. It was then that I realized how complicated, stressful, and difficult life can be. I realize now how much I struggled with setting such high, sometimes unattainable, unrealistic expectations for myself. I was always so concerned with reaching for my goals that I failed to enjoy the simple, beautiful moments in life. To me these simple moments vary widely, but are comparable in greatness. These are the moments where I failed to stop and enjoy the breath of my first puppy, the peaceful purr of a kitten, a hug from someone I love, the bloom of tulips in the spring, the way my house smells, or the joy in my mom’s eyes when I come home to visit. All these simple moments are easy to look past and take for granted, and I believe that’s what makes them so precious, so memorable.
When I moved out of my house and into my very first apartment to start my very first semester of college, I failed to realize the magnitude of it all. I slowly went through the belongings in my room and tried to decipher what I need to bring with me to my new life. My mom was sifting though the house, picking up the last minute items that I might have forgotten to purchase. We packed my little two door car to the brim. We both, in our own way, were trying to avoid the inevitable goodbye that we knew was going to come too soon. I drove down to my dad’s shop, where he spent most of his time, to say my final goodbye to my parents. My dad checked my car to make sure everything was packed securely and fastened in place. Then I turned around and when my eyes met with my moms I could not only see the pain in them but feel it in my heart. The tears welled up and within seconds my moms face had gone from a proud parent to a worried, lonely, and protective mother. When I closed the door of my car, and essentially a chapter in my book of life, I heard my dad tell my mom to quit crying and I saw her walk back to the house alone.
I never would have realized that this moment, this small moment, would have had such an impact on my life. When I look back I see how hard it must have been for a mother who raised two children, protecting them from the wrath of alcoholism their father suffered with, see the oldest, closest to her pack up her precious belongings and move to a new city. When I replay this episode in my mind I see an extremely distraught woman in my head and I just want to jump back in time and stay. I want to go back and hug her and reassure her that I will always be her little girl. But I had to go, every child has to move on, but I’m left with the vision of my mother being told to stop caring so much and walk back up to our house alone. I can’t image how long she must have cried.
My first year of college was bittersweet. It was a great learning experience, paying my own bills and learning how to balance school and work. It was a good school year for me but I was relieved to cure my homesickness when I moved back for the summer. I loved being back home and having home cooked meals and a queen size bed to sleep in. I worked a lot, for most of the summer I had two jobs and worked double shifts during the week. When I had some time off I would go for long runs or walks. I would run down the country roads, with the sun beating down on me, and release all the anger I had inside. It was my stress reliever, my escape. Most of the time my mom and I would go together and sometimes even my brother would join us. We would run until we couldn’t run anymore and our fast paces out slow until were walking side by side, enjoying each other’s company.
These small moments and many others that I spent with the closest people in my life, at the time, my mom and brother, mean so much to me. It was these small moments that I can still remember so vividly that I feel like I could just jump back into them. I also realize now how much my mom cared for my brother and me. She wanted us to learn to be good people and be health people on the inside and out. As I live and learn I realize that life is not a movie, there is no fast forwarding though the sad times and no rewinding the great ones. It goes by so fast and it’s important to me and I believe that we need to cherish the little moments that put the smiles on our faces or give us a feeling of love and belonging, even if it’s as simple of the smell of your home.