I thought about it a lot yesterday while I was painting our front gate — this gift of time.
My grandfather died my first year in college. I was studying creative writing. Words had always saved me, since I was a little girl. When I found out he was ill, I started writing. Reaching out with each letter. To save him. To save myself.
I picked up the community phone in our dorm. It was my Aunt Sandy who called to ask if it could be read at his funeral, this poem. The tears were streaming down my face. The two popular girls from South Dakota, their room adjacent to the community room, stood beside me, trying to catch the tears in their hands.
I was so brand new, in almost every way. The language I was living was filled with hellos, and on his paper, his poem, I was writing his goodbye. In one line I spoke of him wanting to repaint the barn, but he thought he wouldn’t live to see it dry. The words break me, even as I type it. Even as I painted the front gate. But in this cracking of my heart, this opening, it became so clear. I do have the time. Today. And the choice of how to fill it. The choice to live each moment, the best that I can.
I caught the paint drops in my hand and made our front gate just a little more welcoming. I did the same with my heart. This day, this time, this brand new, will not be wasted. It will be lived. And it will be beautiful! With each word I type, I know that I won’t be safe, but I will be saved.