Counting the Days

Life is precious. And fleeting. And too often taken for granted. The older I get, the more I come face to face with that harsh reality.

Late last month, I found out my Syracuse University advisor passed away. Professor Don Edwards was a godsend when I first arrived on campus. I was a scared, immature kid with HUGE dreams and no earthly idea how to achieve them; he decided right away he was going to help me succeed. He told me from the outset that I would get where I wanted to go, that I would make it “big,” that everything I dreamed was possible. He used to tell me that I’d be famous someday. Haha. My response was exactly that–laughter. Nervous, insecure giggles. But he didn’t waiver. Professor Edwards knew I needed someone to believe in me, someone to push me. He accepted that role in my life before I knew to ask him.

During my time at Syracuse and even after I graduated, he was always available when I needed him. I would burst into his office to share about some exciting project or internship opportunity and then my first real job. I would be full of exuberance and enthusiasm, and he would listen to me rattle on and on. When I took a breath, he would offer his advice and ask me questions to force me to think critically about the challenge ahead. Professor Edwards always kept the big picture in mind, and he was the voice in my life who constantly reminded me how all the steps were preparing me to achieve my ultimate goals.

We kept in touch for awhile after I left central New York. I wrote him a few letters to update him on my various jobs, and he replied periodically. After he retired, he devoted more time to his second love–carving wooden toys. He always had a few of them in his office at school, and he would show them to me when I stopped by. The last time we communicated was at least ten years ago. I wish I had one more chance to tell him his investment in me was not in vain. I used to thank him constantly, but did he realize I never would have made it without his wisdom and support??

The older I get, the more I realize that people are the only thing that matter in this life. Family, friends, acquaintances, strangers–there’s nothing more important than the people with whom we cross paths, whether it’s for years or only for a moment.

In the last few months, a half-dozen friends of mine have lost parents, most of them unexpectedly. Two other friends have buried spouses. It’s all caused me to think about how it would feel to lose a member of my own family suddenly; it’s prompted me to examine how I value the people closest to me. My Mom knows how much I appreciate her, how much I treasure our relationship. She also knows I get annoyed when I think she’s treating me like a teenager, ha. I’m not sure if that will EVER change, not even when I get married. But I don’t want to imagine a world where Mom isn’t checking on me, reminding me to take care of myself, nagging me not to forget things that need to get done. (Momma, my life would be empty, boring, and far too quiet if I didn’t have you to share it with! Love you!)

Travel is one of my favorite pastimes. When I get time off, I very rarely stay put. I love road trips to see my nieces and treks to farm country Wisconsin to hang out with my 95-year-old Grammy. I also enjoy taking vacations in parts of the country where I can visit long-lost friends. Usually, I start planning these jaunts months in advance. But recently, on the spur of the moment, I bought a plane ticket to Oklahoma to surprise friends celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. I briefly considered the expense because it wasn’t a cheap venture, but I hadn’t seen Jerry and Virginia in more than a decade. They were like second parents to me when I lived there in 2001, inviting me (and my cat) to move in for several months while I was jobless and penniless.

As I snuck up behind them on their back terrace, it felt like part of my heart was returning home. What a day! To hug them, to talk to them in person, to laugh out loud, to celebrate their life together, to sit around their living room all evening, to see them smile–that experience made the expense and travel headaches worth it. They knew how much I love them because I showed up, and it filled my soul with extreme joy. I wouldn’t trade those hours for all the money in the world.

Life is precious and fleeting. We don’t know how long we’ll get with our family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers. There is no time to waste. Natural disasters, accidents, illnesses frequently catch us off guard. Nothing is guaranteed.

The older I get, the more I find myself counting the days and wishing time would slow down. Of course, that’s not possible, so the only thing I can do is try to make every day count.

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7 Responses to “Counting the Days”

  1. Well Done. You have figured it out. Now I do not have to wait for that Book I wanted You to write. I now don`t have time to read it. ha ha All the Best To You.

  2. Wow! your words said it all. So precious is each day that we live. These OK friends were thankful you came and shared with them so thank you, Amy for sharing your thoughts. I am so blessed by them

  3. What a memory to catalog. Keep it up as best as you can. My parents have been gone for decades. My mother-in-law is 91. Father in law died at 91 in Jan. We go to Door Co for a visit every month to help care for her. Thank you for sharing a bit of yourself.

  4. So true, good read. while reading you had me reflecting. Thanks

  5. Jeff Carson Says:

    Amy, you are a beautiful soul. You have caused me to think and to be thankful. Life is too short for us, knowing though that one day I will be with our Heavenly Father is a source of security. No one knows when that day will come. ? Yes I have taken life for granted myself. Get up at 3:20 am every Morning feed the 2 cats and a dog, go to work, yada,yada,yada. And it starts over again. My oldest Daughter moved out with her boyfriend, my youngest Daughter moved in with her boyfriend and 2 daughters, it’s what my Wife and I chose to do to help them get back on there feet. I love my grandkids. I never dreamed I would see this day. I thank God for my Life. Family is very important, I am adopted, have no idea who my biological parents our, but I do know who my parents are, the ones who raised me from adoption, loved me and nurtured me. Mom and Dad are both 89, the days are numbered and Mom has taken a turn for the worse. Amy, this is very hard for me and being the only Child, I am at a loss as what to do or even how to handle it. I’m scared to be honest. Enough about me. Thank You for your blog, it has made me realize the importance of Family, Life and our Friends. People are placed in our lives from God, it is our job to nurture that relationship. Thank You again Amy may God be with you always.

  6. Very insightful. Sounds like you’ve been observing and gathering a bunch of life lessons that you can pass along. Isn’t it great that with all the craziness in this world the important things are always there waiting for us to see them.

  7. Jeffrey Nunes Says:

    Amy very nicely done, thank you,

    your words definitely made me step back and think.

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