"I got to thinking one day about all those women on the Titanic who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night in an effort to 'cut back.' From then on, I've tried to be a little more flexible."
(Erma Bombeck)

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The Gift of an Ordinary Day

1. of no special quality or interest; commonplace; unexceptional.
2. plain or undistinguished.
3. somewhat inferior or below average; mediocre.
4. customary; usual; normal.

Our lives are made up of ordinary days. Don't we all somehow sense that the small moments of our lives make life worth living? Yet, we get so caught up in the busy-ness of life that we sometimes forget. It's like we're stuck on one of those playground merry-go-rounds. We want to get off long enough to observe from a distance and say, “See what fun we're having!” and then hop back on to enjoy the ride (I don't know about you, but I always got dizzy and nauseous playing on those things).

I remember the week in July 2008 when I was told I had a "solid mass" that needed investigation. I had a biopsy and was told I'd need to wait five days (over a weekend) to find out whether the mass was benign or something more sinister (sinister seems like the right word since it struck me that some alien presence might be ravaging my body).

I attended a play, Beauty & The Beast, with my family that weekend to enjoy my nephew's performance as Gaston. I tried to quash my fears, but they were there, just under the surface. I remember sitting in the theater before the play started, chatting with my parents, eagerly anticipating the play and the dinner we would all share together afterward. I remember thinking, “I want to live. I want more of this. I'm not ready to die yet.”

I've always known that, in the end, my life will be defined by the sum of its ordinary days. Getting a cancer diagnosis is sort of like having a big red circle drawn around ALL the days on your calendar, slapping you in the face with the knowledge that you have something special going on each and every day from hereon out (or hadn't you noticed?).

Unfortunately, I haven't kept a journal most of my life. But, there were times I would make the attempt. One such time was the year 1997. I was a mostly stay-at-home mom to my 6-1/2 year old daughter (I worked part-time at our church back then).

Reading my journal from that season of my life, I'm glad I recorded some of my days. They were so completely ordinary, yet (especially looking back), not. Here are a few excerpts:

May 6, 1997
After Ariel and I returned from school and the store this afternoon, she ran out to sing and dance around in the yard. I stood at the kitchen sink watching her in all  her exuberance and chidlike joy, with Sophie (our dog) happily jumping and running in circles beside her, mouth hanging open in her “doggie grin.” The two were having a time of it. Watching them together brought joy and tenderness to my heart. I want to freeze life right there. I feel so entirely privileged and blessed to be a mother.

May 12, 1997
Today was a super nice day—it was almost 80 degrees out. Ariel and I rode our bikes around the house (outside) and played on the homemade “water slide” with the neighbor kids. P.S.--I am thankful for: beautiful, sunny days, my beautiful daughter, my faithful husband, my doggie, my parents who are always there for me, my church and my job, good food to eat, and a great place to live.

May 21, 1997
Today, while Ariel and I were eating lunch at Wendy's, she showed me a heart-shaped chicken nugget that she said she wouldn't eat. I remarked that if it broke, it would be a “broken heart.” Then I asked her if she knew what a broken heart was. I explained to her that it was when a person loves somebody and the other person doesn't love them back or leaves them to love someone else. It occurred to me that this would be the time to tell her something about my own broken heart (i.e., divorce).

This was a big deal to me, as I have prayed God would give me an appropriate time to tell her I'd been married before, so I said a quick prayer for wisdom and forged ahead. I told her that a long time before I met Daddy, I was married to another person, who broke my heart by saying he didn't love me anymore and divorcing me. I told her it hurt me a lot because I wanted to stay married and I knew God didn't want us to get divorced, but there was nothing I could do.

I was a little surprised at her reaction. She put both of her hands over her nose and mouth and made her eyes look really big and surprised. Then she said, “Mommy, why have you never told me this before?” I said, “Well, I wanted to tell you, but I wanted to wait until you were old enough to understand.”

Then she said that if that guy (“What was his name, Mommy?”) hadn't divorced me and she was born, then he would be her Dad. I tried to explain to her that it didn't work that way—that she was a part of Daddy and me and that if we hadn't married, she would not have been born. Pretty heavy stuff for a six-year old to fathom. I tried to re-emphasize God's plan for people to stay married and that He was good to me by allowing me to meet Daddy. I told her I hoped she'd never go through anything like that.

June 12, 1997
My little baby girl  had her last day of kindergarten last Tuesday. When Mrs. Veldkamp (her teacher) said a closing prayer, she hesitated for an extremely long time and it was obvious that she was choking back her tears. After she finally did finish, she remarked, “This is hard sometimes.” I was about to come apart when she started to cry. I realize that everything Ariel goes through is significant because it is the only time either one of us will experience it (i.e., I have no other children to put in kindergarten). If one stops to refelct on it, it really is quite profound . . . I hope we will be close someday. I hope we will have an unbroken bond.

While we're on the topic of ordinary days, I'll end with this wonderful video of author Katrina Kenison talking about, The Gift of an Ordinary Day. If you're a parent (or even if you're not yet), it will be meaningful.

Treasure all of your ordinary days.

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Reader Comments (1)

I love the video, Dana. I miss my children so much. Letting go and going thru a new chapter in our lives is so hard. I can't wait for there phone call, when they want to talk to me again...

February 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJane Chetwood

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