Thanks to my sister Anne.
If you know Anne, you know that this is not unusual. At any given moment, you might find her wading down a river, striking a kung fu pose in a haunted forest when confronted by “demons,” or trying not to vomit over the side of a boat, cruising down the Rhine River. All very explainable situations, mind you.
The river wading? Well, who can resist the sound of a flowing river? It begs you to walk it.
The “demons” were overzealous paid actors at a Halloween event she convinced another sister to attend (They were sans children—this is just Anne’s idea of a good time.).
And the riverboat was a trip she was checking off of her bucket list—a jaunt she finally made but suffered sea sickness throughout. Like I said, the unusual is usual for Anne.
My sister embraces life. This is all the more key to my story because she was diagnosed with advanced stage cancer a couple of years ago.
Ah, embracing life takes on a different meaning now, doesn’t it?
What a shame. That we think this way. We only embrace moments when we’re given a warning bell.
I realized, as mud squished between my toes, that if Anne were not to be with us in the near future, this would be one of my favorite memories with her. I have a snapshot in my mind of her holding my son’s hand, walking down that river, up and over logs, through rapids, pointing out bits of nature as they went—the beaver dam, the hawk flying above. And me, trailing behind, cursing her loudly for bringing the water shoes that made it possible for me to walk through this river, feeling oozing mud with every step. We were laughing because it was so typical that I would come unprepared for high adventure and Anne would still make sure it happened.
The truth of the matter is, Anne could outlive you and me. So while I’m trying to treasure the moments I have with her, I may not be doing the same when I’m with you. Even though you could be hit by a bus tomorrow.
This is one of the conundrums I think we’re here to best. We live life daily as if having to wait five minutes in line for coffee is a curse. As if one poor teacher will ruin our children. As if people who make mistakes are to be tsked at and judged.
When really, it’s all one big lab experiment. We come here to learn things. Usually lessons. Sometimes through pain, sometimes through joy. Anne has had her fair share of both. And she’s up for it. She does not sweat the small stuff anymore.
I realize we cannot live day to day with the knowledge of how fragile and temporary this life is. I know I could not function as a parent or friend while truly taking this in. But we can have moments where we get it. And try not to panic. Instead, to enjoy what we are given. To know it is not forever.
To be sure the adventure happens.
Anne is doing just that.
How about you?