I think everyone is familiar enough with the phrase ‘stop and smell the roses,’ but my perception of what that means has seemed to create a little different thought pattern than its typical meaning. For me, for the last few years probably, it’s been packaged in the idea of finality. I catch myself stopping at various times, not always to enjoy the moment because a lot of times the moments aren’t exactly enjoyable or all roses, but rather to fully appreciate the significance of that point in time and what it may possibly be. I’m often wondering if this is the last time I may be experiencing something in life. Standing on a pier overlooking the Pacific ocean, something I’ve done a few times, but the last time I wondered if that could possibly be the last time I stood here and just looked at a sunset fading into the ocean water (which is a unique sight to see compared to normal sunsets). Hiking Cloudland Canyon to the falls, which I’ve done many times over the years, is another where I stopped to just take it in wondering what if this is the last time I get to see these falls? There’s something that wires an overdrive of senses in moments where you look at something or experience something with the consciousness that it could be the final time you take it in. I also find this happening more with my kids. Bedtime at the house is crazy and busy and stressful, but regardless of what happens, or how much we have just butted heads, Hayden will always hug me goodnight and give me a kiss on the cheek. She won’t let me go until she gets those two things. Fully transparent, there are many times where I went through the motions with that. I was tired, busy, trying to get all the steps checked off the list to get the kids in the bed. Hug and a kiss, check. That’s a rose. A rose that will one day start to wilt. Roses aren’t eternal, they come, they are beautiful, and then they pass and make way for new roses. Roses do not wait to be appreciated. They exist in their time and it’s our responsibility to fully take them in during their time. Now, I view that hug and kiss differently. She won’t always want to give me a hug and kiss. One day she’ll feel too big for those kinds of things. I know they won't last forever. I stop and look at those as if this may be the last one I get. If this is the last time she demanded a hug and a kiss from me, where would my mindset be? How would I treat this moment? It’s certainly not with rush, or with more important matters in the back of my mind. I’m treating that as if it’s a finite supply, one that loses a count each day on its way to zero. I’m savoring every sweet drop of love that child is giving me until that day comes. There’s so many things I need to do this with in my life. Not just the places I visit and the things I do, but the moments that come to me with others in my life. The boys won’t always want me to play cars with them, or push them on the swing, or climb on the bars or trampoline with them. I’ve got to stop viewing moments with people as interruptions and start looking at them for what they are, opportunities. Opportunities that are limited. Opportunities that you can never get back once they are gone. Find the roses, and appreciate them in their uniqueness while you can.
Lately I’ve been falling into a deep thought haze while putting Harp to bed each night. I’ve always looked at her as a rose, but with her it has a bit of a different twist. I often think, 10, 15, 20 years down the road will I look back and remember these moments. Moments, where I’m sharing smiles with her while doing breathing treatments, moments where she laughs when I throw the empty treatment vials in the trash can and cheer like we’ve won a game, moments where we pray together and do big hugs with a bright smile that always follows. When I’m old and slowing in life, and she’s grown and our whole family dynamic is different, will I still remember all these tiny details that make life wonderful to experience right now? Normally my thoughts eventually get to what becomes of life when I’m too old to take care of Harper anymore. What happens when we no longer can live in the same place, and I’m too old to drive to go see her? I think of my grandparents and how difficult it was on papaw when mamaw had to go live in the nursing home. He was completely dependent on others to take him to see her. How heartbreaking for a couple who had spent very few days apart in their entire lives together? I think of my other grandfather who had a brother in Florida, and mom taking him down there to visit knowing that was probably the last time they were going to get to see each other. How hard is that? How hard would it be if I knew someone was taking me to Harper and it might be the last time? The idea wrecks me. The idea triggers that same influx of awareness in the moment and makes me fully appreciate standing there next to her doing mundane stuff like medicines and diaper changes. Every smile and coo from her are soaked up in my heart because one day, hopefully way way down the road, those won’t always be guaranteed. Time with her is a rose I water and fertilize every chance I get. I don’t just take in the moments, I cultivate them for all they are worth. I hope there are many more to come for both of us, but for all we know a seizure could come through and stop it all in an instant. I can never let the business be my life’s driver, thinking there will always be another one to smell tomorrow. I hope I continue to realize the differences between roses and weeds in life, and put my focus and appreciation on the things and people that are most important.
If you’ve made it through all of those ramblings then you’re probably wondering how Harper is actually doing. She is really doing very well lately! The last several weeks have been filled with smiles and coos and half laughs. It’s been a very fun time with her to say the least. Health has been good, checkups have been good, and she’s growing more each day. We have begun to see little things that she does that appear to be very intentional, like her mind is starting to click a little bit more each day. I’ve watched her give her hands on command, wallow her body around to get closer to me, and also craning her head around and seemingly talk directly back to me several times while telling her ‘bye’ as I leave the house. These are not things she’s always done, or at least with that kind of timing and determination. This next year will be interesting to see how she continues to develop. If there’s anything that we would say that’s not great right now would be the odd stuff. Her feeding machine has done some odd stuff, like not feed her through an entire night but not alarm. Her head control has seemed weaker than before, but we wonder if that had to do with the last round of botox shots in the legs. There’s always the risk of some of that medicine getting into the blood stream and landing somewhere else. All you can do is wait it out 6 months. But for today, we won’t complain about those things. We will celebrate what we have because it sure is a fun family to be in. Today is actually the boy’s adoption day! What a crazy three years it has been!