Why am I such an emotional being? Why is it that a child's gentle, hesitant voice, singing a song, can stir such strong feelings in me? Why is it that a photograph of two sisters hugging can bring a tear to my eye? Why is it that an older couple, walking hand in hand always puts a smile on my lips?
Maybe I was emotional before, but it is not the same. I am not the same.
The first big change in me came after Doug died. Before someone dear to you dies, you don't give death much thought. You know it happens, but it is out there, way in the future. But, once death barges into your life, like an unwanted houseguest, it is impossible to ignore. It finds its way into all the crevices of your home, and even when it leaves, your home is never the same. You remember what it was like having it barge through your door, and the memories linger like faint traces of perfume.
After Doug died, I realized the value of time. Before, time was like a never ending dixie cup dispenser. If I had a bad day, tomorrow would be better. If I said something I wished I could take back, I would apologize the next time I saw the person. Things could always wait.
After he died, and the fragility of time became clear to me, time took on new meaning. There is an urgency now - a need to spend my time wisely. It is difficult for me to stay at a job that makes me unhappy. It is difficult for me to spend time with negative people. It is difficult for me to put things off.
When I leave someone I love, even for a short time, I often think, "Did I hug them? Did I say I Love You? Do they know how much they mean to me?" I start to go down that scary "what if" road more often than I probably should. I usually shake my head forcefully to rid the thoughts from my mind. It's not something that I want to focus on, but at the same time, there is a gift that comes in the understanding that life is uncertain. Appreciation. For little things, like sunsets, butterflies, and the smell in the air after it rains. For big things, like watching Jim and Dylan play, and spending time with my family. An appreciation for people - the ones who are always there for me when I need them.
The second big change in me came the day I looked into my son's eyes for the first time. It was as if I had been wearing sunglasses with the wrong prescription up until that point. The world immediately became clear to me, clear and bright and beautiful, and full of love. Time took on new meaning once again. Talk about an urgency! I had even less time in my days!
I did make one New Years resolution for 2009. I resolve to have pictures of our family hung on the walls of our new home this year. This might not seem like a big deal, but for me it is. Other than that, I would just like to spend more time doing the things that I love, and less time doing the things that I don't. In 2009, I wish that for all of us.