I was on a run.
I like to start sentences this way because it makes me sound so active and athletic at 47. The list is longer for things that don't make me sound active and athletic so it helps to tip the scale. For example, when I woke up this morning and heard myself say, "Man, I'm so sore from bowling last night," it was not a great moment. On another occasion recently I was trying to defend the rigors of pickle ball to a group of naysayers and when I heard myself, I elected to leave my defense hanging in the air and shuffled off to find a group more accepting.
So, yes. When I can truthfully state that I was on a run I fit it in wherever possible. In this case it was two days before my daughter's wedding in San Diego and I had a lot of nervous energy to expel. So I threw on my gear and headed out to jog the streets of my youth. I passed a new elementary school beginning its first day of the school year. Parents held the hands of their children on one side and clutched their caramel lattes in the other and escorted their kids through the labyrinth of childhood angst. As I passed them I silently celebrated the end of that phase of life for me and cruised to the corner where I turned to ascend a steep hill. My mind was all over the place. Hair appointments, photo sessions, don't forget to give the bubbles to Suzi, remember the enlargements for the easels, are we driving mom and dad crazy taking over their house? Will they be okay enduring such a long day? Remember to get the cream for the soda bar. I can't believe how awesome my friends are. Am I ready to let Samantha go? It's a good thing I trust her. It's a blessing that I trust her future husband. I wonder how many times I will screw up being a mother-in-law in the first five minutes. I've got to get Drew's amp to the DJ. Three other family members are celebrating their anniversaries the same day of the wedding. Don't forget to mention them in your toast! (I forgot to mention them.) My sister is working SO HARD on those flowers. I can't believe how beautiful they are. My nephew and his wife are doing so much to help. His wife is pregnant. Is she ok? Is she getting enough sleep? We need to get the favors assembled. I need to return this basket to Target. My toenail polish is too bright. Do the bridesmaids have their necklaces? I'm so excited for Drew's toast. He has been working on it for months and Samantha has no idea. Will the guests be too hot?
With every grunt I tried to purge it all on that hill and finally began my descent when I thought, "I'm ready for this wedding to be over. I'm ready for this run to be over. When all of this is over I can finally relax." Then came the immediate response in my mind, "THIS IS IT. THIS is the moment. Right here. Right now. It's not the wedding, it's not when it's over, you are living right now. Stop. Breathe it. Appreciate it. This is the gift of life right here." So I did. I stopped. I scrambled my iPhone out of its case and took a picture of the very spot where I paused so I could remember it. I vowed to myself right then and there to stop waiting to enjoy myself until it was all over, and to take in everything as it comes and be grateful.
That was the first of many moments I enjoyed that weekend. I ate an ice cream cone alone by the marina in Seaport Village and inhaled the ocean air. There was a moment the day of the wedding when Cory told me I was more beautiful that day than the day we got married. There was a moment when I looked over and saw my Dad laughing with Samantha and David at the kitchen table, and David was wearing his infamous sheepish grin. There was the moment I walked in on my Dad playing his banjo alongside Drew who was strumming his guitar as my Dad sang along. There was the moment I watched David glimpse Samantha for the first time in her wedding dress. There were various moments I watched him usher Samantha from place to place with his hand on her back, often holding her bouquet to help her navigate uneven terrain in high heels. Samantha glowed for hours. She was so happy. I watched as friends and family filed into the temple, one after another in a glorious stream of love and support.
It has been four months since that glorious weekend and I am still simmering in the joy of it all. But the real moment was that spot on the hill; stopped under the arc of a swaying willow tree and noting the outline of the low, California hills ahead of me. The road ahead stretched just beyond as an invitation to look ahead without forgetting where I was.
That was the moment that shaped everything.