We are living in a window of time — and no matter how bad or how good today appears, it will not last forever.
What I was young my mother used to try to comfort me with the words, “This Too Shall Pass,” which, for some reason, infuriated me rather than making me feel someone heard my pain and understood it. It was only in adulthood I could appreciate that, yes, the unhappy experiences we have will pass. But the good ones will, also.
While pushing my mother-in-law in her wheelchair during an afternoon outing away from the nursing home, passersby nodded appreciatively at me — the sweet, younger woman pushing the chair of the quite elderly one. Clearly, I was the pretty one. My mother-in-law reached out to touch my hair. “My, how thick your hair is,” she said. Just days before, my own mother had described to me the effects her heart medications had had on her once-thick tresses. My mom was around 80 at this time — I was in my mid-40s.
Suddenly I realized that life might have some surprises in store for me. One day I might reach my 80s and find myself with pale, thinning hair, rolling along in a wheelchair being pushed (if I’m lucky) by some younger relative — someone who would be admired by all we pass for being such a pretty young thing, obviously sweet since she’s pushing the chair of that old crone.
Since then, when I’ve gotten a compliment, I try to stop and think: Is (this achievement) something I just get to have right now — a quality which really has nothing to do with who I am — as opposed to who I have worked to become through hard work and personal efforts? And, even if I am being complimented on being bright and clever and knowledgeable about something, these qualities also could be lost if I had a big stroke like my father did or several little strokes like my mother-in-law. Hopefully, at that point, I will discover that I am nice. Time will tell.
Some years, the Republicans rule. Other years, the Democrats are in charge. No matter how good — or how bad — we believe things are, we are simply in a window of time which will later morph into some different kind of chapter. When the dog bites and the bee stings, I try to remember how lucky I am that for now, my mom and my dad and my husband and my brother are all still living, still sharing, here together in this window of time.