Once in a great while, I am blessed with a captivating dream about my children – Rachel, Stephen Jr., and Matthew – when they were small.
To me, such dreams are richer than mere memories. They seem, at least for their short duration, to allow the reliving of a blessed season of life. And, they just might provide an insight or two lost in the original moment(s).
Thomas Carlyle once observed that “the tragedy of life lies not in how much we suffer but in how much we miss.”
Jesus’ parable of the sower similarly treats this theme. Many seeds, the Lord teaches, are wasted because the soil (i.e., mind, heart, and soul) is unprepared to receive them.
I have often wondered what I’ve missed in my life. Many seeds, I’m quite sure.
A few years ago, I searched my home for a book I was sure I owned. As frustration mounted, I finally thought to check an upstairs bookcase wherein we keep some older titles. As I looked there from shelf to shelf, I spotted a small cluster of children’s books tucked in the corner.
I pulled the books out of their resting place and immediately forgot all about my frantic search.
When our children were little, bedtime was a festive happening. There were prayers, songs, spontaneous “pretend stories” (a nightly test of Dad’s creativity), and at least one – but often two – children’s books. The rediscovered titles resting on my lap that day had been featured at Dalton bedtimes time and again.
I flipped through the familiar pages with an odd mix of emotions. Then, an especially tender, yet profoundly sad, thought came to mind. Once upon a time, years ago, I had read each one of those books, respectively, to each one of my children, respectively, for the very last time… without realizing it.
I grieved at the awareness.
Like many people, I sometimes wish that I could relive a moment from the past – not to remain there, but just to have that treasured experience once more.
“If I could save time in a bottle,” sang (the late) Jim Croce.
If I held such a magic bottle in my hands, I would wait for a moment of particular darkness, a time when I needed a very special grace to strengthen me; then, I’d uncork it and drink in the experience of reading each one of those books, respectively, to each one of my (small again) children, respectively, for the very last time.
And, finally understanding the sanctity of the moment, I would read ever so slowly.
Tick – tick – tick!
Steve, I too have struggled over lost moments but possibly for different reasons. Because of the tragedy of divorce many moments were never able to actually be, because of circumstances. I do distinctively recall however, one night when I was talking on the phone to a friend (listening intently as I should have to my son). Zac was 8 at the time and he walked in to speak to me but I dismissed him. I wasn’t rude but I didn’t give him my attention because what I was listening to on the telephone was important. He kept coming in to tap me and wait for me to get off. This happened at least three times. Then a moment later, his last attempt, he brought me the back of a business card, where he wrote in the priceless script only a child can print, “Good Night mom I ❤ U x o x o. In that very moment my heart stopped! I realized although I was being a good friend on the phone, I was neglecting my son's needs. I felt terrible, I knew that instant would never make it's appearance in my life again, at least not at that age for Zac.
I quickly ended the call and ran to hug him but he was done; he had given up. I took that precious card and attached our pictures to it and framed it. It sits on my night stand and has for the last 13 years. it is a reminder to stop and listen. I still fail at this but I remember that poignant night and I stand still in my tracks and reevaluate the moment at hand.
What an amazing story, Joanne! That brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing it!
I smiled as I read this post. It brought back such happy memories of my Dad reading me bedtime stories. He also used to make up stories. This was my favorite time of day, hearing him read to me or tell stories.
It was such a marvelous bonding time for us, Nancy – distraction free and pure fun!
Funny when vcrs first came out someone said that maybe when we get to heaven one of the joys will be our being able to “rewind” some of our favorite experiences and live them again.
When we have a different memory of just who said what and when, I have said to Melinda in heaven we’ll finally find out who is correct.
Thanks for your musings Steve, each one is a gift.
Thank you, Larry! I appreciate your feedback very much, my friend!
Steve your blogs are wonderful and bring me back to my memories with our children and the times we have had with them. Thank you!
You’re most welcome, Sona! Thank you for following my “musings.” I hope you are well, my friend.
Once again, Steve you’re right on the mark. I fondly remember my mom and dad reading Uncle Wiggily stories to me some seventy plus years ago. Then I read them to my children, then to my grandchildren. Now one of my grandsons, 19 years old, refers to the big chair in my living room as “the Uncle Wiggily chair.. .Another happy time for me was to sit on my father’s lap while he read the funnies to me. Thank you and God Bless you for the joyful reflection.
“The Uncle Wiggily Chair!” What a wonderful legacy to pass on to your grandchildren! That warms my heart, Tony! Thank you for writing.
By the way, I now read those books that I rediscovered to my grandchildren. I cherish every opportunity.
Wishing you God’s own peace,
I hope you’ll also read more “Musings,” Evelyn! 🙂
Oh my goodness. That is just beautifully written. I’m sobbing but it’s beautiful. 🙂 My two favourite things – my children and books. Thank you.
Joy, I’m so glad that this touched your heart! Thank you for visiting and for taking the time to comment. Blessings, Steve