Live each day like it was your last.
We hear that a lot. The notion is ridiculous. On that advice, we’d all be running up our credit cards at the Four Seasons, Bora Bora (see above).
But there are moments when you do suddenly realize you don’t have time to lose. For me, that was this week. The long delayed surgery date had finally arrived.
As I studied the hospital forms*, including an exhaustive list of potential adverse reactions, I thought, I could actually die. And it wasn’t me spinning a nightmare scenario. This was just plain old informed consent.
That got me thinking about the weekend—my last before this unnerving event. The awareness that tomorrow is never guaranteed must have been floating around inside me. I had decided to have that conversation.
Sunday happened to be the first glimpse of what it will be like for my husband and me once our three teenagers are off having their lives. Our daughter had just left back to college, our middle son was away at camp and the little one had a sleepover that would extend into the afternoon.
I asked Mark to join me on an early morning walk.
Before the pandemic, weekly date nights had given us regular opportunities to reconnect outside our role as parents. After two plus years without that time, we’d become accustomed to living more as a triage operation. We shared information on a need to know basis without periodic breaks just for the two of us.
We set out early, the clouds still tinged with sunrise pink. Movement gets the body, the heart and the mind moving. We walked for a few blocks in silence.
Once we crossed the bridge, I asked him what he wanted for himself in our relationship. I wondered if, after all this time, we valued different things.
It was no mystery how we had arrived at this place. At the start of any relationship, especially with no children, it’s all sunshine and bluebirds. When life gets messy, and ours certainly had over twenty-six years, you revert back to your roots communication-wise.
If you saw a snapshot of our two sets of parents, you’d know how we got to be opposites on this front. When Mark invited me to meet his folks for the first time, he asked, “did you ever seen that show, Dynasty? My parents are the Carringtons.” Mine are their opposite: Jewish hippie divorcees.
With all that had been happening in our home—pandemic teenagers, work interruptions, illnesses— the hushed, polite exchanges Mark preferred just hadn’t been possible. On too many occasions, I’d held in what I had to say. For me, stuffed feelings become flinty. Then one little spark sets the whole thing ablaze. On those occasions, Mark had said less and less.
On our walk, I told him I could do without the tone policing. When I express myself and he doesn’t respond, I feel alone. That is no way to feel in a couple.
He said because of how emotional I get, he holds back when he disagrees with me. We have both had unhelpful thoughts about each other.
She is too volatile for a conversation.
If he cared, he would share openly with me.
I said what I had to say and he didn’t ask me to express myself in a more polite way. He shared that he’d like to feel more connected too.
After letting each other in for the first time in ages, we truly enjoyed the day together. Like we remembered we are each other’s person. Like before our kids were born. If you are a parent, you remember that time. There’s nothing you wouldn’t do for your person. There’s a palpable sweetness in everything.
We brunched, we beached, we discovered a delicious new taco place and had margaritas, we ended the day in each others arms listening to our favorite Seventies Love Songs. It was the perfect reset.
When you decide what you want in your life, there is no need to put it off. Cheers to creating the life you want.
POWERFUL QUESTION: What relationship could benefit from a reset for you? How can you have the courage to ask for what you want? What will help you do that?
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*As a lawyer, those forms always make me smile. Free bit of legal advice: if they do something wrong, you can sue. Don’t ever think you sign your rights away. It’s just a matter of establishing causation and whether the damages are worth the effort bc it takes forever and can be expensive to pay for expert testimony.