One Second in Time

Weeks and months. Days and nights. Hours. Minutes.

Good and bad. Victorious and defeated. Happy and sad.

One week a football team is undefeated, and the next week that same team is the loser in the Super Bowl. One day an unemployed person is depressed and deflated, and the next day he is on top of the world with a job offer. One minute a woman is pregnant and the next she becomes a mother.

Life changes on a dime. In the blink of an eye.

Former Representative Gabby Giffords understands this notion. So does every Olympic athlete. Even Kate Middleton comprehends how life can change in an instant. So does Queen Elizabeth.

When my granddaughter was six months old, her mother called me on my cell phone as I was escorting another of my daughters into Urgent Care for strep throat. My oldest daughter very calmly and seriously informed me that my granddaughter had rolled off the kitchen counter and landed on her head. It took my breath away.

We are all blessed. My granddaughter had no injuries and quickly recovered from her fright, and my daughter’s strep throat infection rapidly responded to antibiotics. But my oldest daughter’s life was permanently changed. She said she turned away for one second and turned back to witness her daughter’s fall. It’s an experience I never had as a mom and I’m adding that to my blessings count. Surely as the mother of four children I experienced some harrowing moments, but none when I could have emotionally beaten myself up about nearly killing my child. Three days after “the fall” I asked my daughter how she was doing. She said she doubted she would ever forget how close she came to losing her daughter. “When she was first born,” my daughter told me, “I paid attention to every breath, every sound. And each one was proof of what a miracle a baby is. I guess I grew comfortable in my role as a mom. I haven’t paid attention to every little noise so much. And now after this, well, I notice every single breath and every single giggle and every single whimper.”

For the last few days, the Hello Dolly! song “It Only Takes a Moment”  keeps playing in my head. I heard it on the radio on Valentine’s Day, probably the only day when a station has the courage to play it. But I was reminded of the phrase “it only takes a moment” a few days later when news spread of Whitney Houston’s death, followed by the story of the Dutch Prince buried in an avalanche. And a local story of a fifteen-year-old boy killed while train jumping with friends.

There is an Irish proverb that instructs us to “dance as if no one were watching, sing as if no one were listening, and live every day as it if were your last.” What awaits you in the next moment?

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