A Story To Live By
by Ann Wells (Los Angeles Times)
My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister's bureau and
lifted out a tissue-wrapped package. "This," he said, "is not a
slip. This is lingerie." He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip.
It was exquisite; silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The
price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached. "Jan bought
this the first time we went to New York, at least 8 or 9 years ago. She never
wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the
He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes
we were taking to the mortician. His hands lingered on the soft material for a
moment, then he slammed the drawer shut and turned to me. "Don't ever save
anything for a special occasion. Every day you're alive is a special occasion."
I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I
helped him and my niece attend to all the sad chores that follow an
unexpected death. I thought about them on the plane returning to California from
the Midwestern town where my sister's family lives. I thought about all
the things that she hadn't seen or heard or done. I thought about the things that
she had done without realizing that they were special.
I'm still thinking about his words, and they've changed my life. I'm
reading more and dusting less. I'm sitting on the deck and admiring the view
without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I'm spending more time with my
family and friends and less time in committee meetings. Whenever possible, life
should be a pattern of experience to savor, not endure. I'm trying to recognize
these moments now and cherish them.
I'm not "saving" anything; we use our good china and crystal for every
special event-such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first
I wear my good blazer to the market if I feel like it. My theory is if I
look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries
without wincing. I'm not saving my good perfume for special parties; clerks in
hardware stores and tellers in banks have noses that function as well as my
"Someday" and "one of these days" are losing their grip on my vocabulary.
If it's worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do
it now. I'm not sure what my sister would have done had she known that she
wouldn't be here for the tomorrow we all take for granted. I think she would have
called family members and a few close friends. She might have called a few
former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to
think she would have gone out for a Chinese dinner, her favorite food. I'm
guessing-I'll never know.
It's those little things left undone that would make me angry if I
knew that my hours were limited. Angry because I put off seeing good Friends
whom I was going to get in touch with-someday. Angry because I hadn't written
certain letters that I intended to write-one of these days. Angry and sorry that I
didn't tell my husband and daughter often enough how much I truly love them. I'm
trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add
laughter and luster to our lives.
And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special.
Every day, every minute, every breath truly is...a gift.
If you love someone, tell them. Remember always to say what you mean.
Never be afraid to express yourself. Take this opportunity to tell someone what
they mean to you. Seize the day and have no regrets.
Most importantly, stay close to your friends and family, or they have
helped make you the person that you are today and are what it's all about
anyway. Pass this along to your friends. Let it make a difference in your day and
theirs. The difference between expressing love and having regrets which may
stay around forever.
I'm not going to make silly claims that this same letter has been traveling
around since before the advent of email and typewriters. It doesn't
contain gruesome stories of what has happened to the people who haven't sent
it on. It doesn't need to.
If you've received this it is because someone cares for you and it
means there is probably at least someone for whom you care. If you're too busy to
take the few minutes that it would take right now to forward this to people,
would it be the first time you didn't do that little thing that would make a
difference in your relationships? I can tell you it certainly won't be the last.
I don't have to make up silly stories about people being hit by buses or
crushed by falling disco balls for not sending this letter on. You've seen the
result of this neglect in your own relationships that you have allowed to fade,
dissolve, and fall into disrepair.
Take this opportunity to set a new trend. Take a few minutes to send
this to a few people you care about, just to let them know that you're thinking
of them. It's even better if they're not the people you already correspond with
every week. The more people that you send this to, the better luck you will
have. And the better you'll get and reaching out to those you care about.
May love litter your life with blessings!
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