We are knee-deep in November and looking out towards the holidays once again. I was in Family Dollar looking for a witch’s hat for handing out Halloween candy, and a small radio was playing Christmas music. That moment is a good illustration of how it all happens with all of us – we aren’t finished with one holiday and another is forcing itself upon us.
We are all told to “stay in the moment” and “live for today,” but the world seems to work at cross purposes. It makes it extra hard to do it. I have tried really hard this year to live what I know and that is that we should never take tomorrow for granted. We should never take our morning coffee for granted. We should never forget that we are not guaranteed another day with a loved one. We are not guaranteed anything. We shouldn’t forget. Yet, we do. The day to day pushes us forward and away from the truth that this moment is all we can be sure of. We live like we are guaranteed decades.
There are some things that happen that are life-changing to the point that there is a before-it-happened and there is an after. It is that event that changes everything. It is that event that makes us look hard at what is and isn’t important. What is most profound is the spotlight that it puts on relationships. Just about everyone can look at these events in their lives and talk about how shocked they were by the people that stood with them, the people who didn’t, or the people who didn’t even show. I remember a friend who told me that his wife’s best friend did not come to visit her when she had breast cancer and stated that she “just couldn’t handle seeing her like that.” But then there was another who had a neighbor that they rarely spoke to who showed up with dinner for the family several nights a week and a friendship was born. Another saw a man give his time and talents to his church for decades to find that few came to visit when he was housebound. In these moments, people surprise us.
“Not everyone in life has a second chance, and I do.” Samir Nasri
In January, we had a life-changing event in our family and we are all still raw from it. I have seen some of the worst moments and I have seen some of the best. I have seen healing in many who reached out for a second chance to start again. And they have started again and it is incredible – what gifts this has brought. On the other hand, I have seen relationships clarified. Some relationships simply will never mend and now everyone knows it. Any question about whether that is true has been answered. As sad as that is, there is some comfort in the knowing.
Some walk towards an opportunity for a second chance and others do not. And it’s ok so long as we know what we are doing. Not reaching out and not doing is to a choice. The quote above states that not everyone has a second chance, but really most of us do in that I am here to write the column and you are here to read it. The second chance is in this moment. We can decide that it will not take a life-changing event to write the letter or to make the phone call. No matter what we choose, it is at minimum a chance to make a very deliberate decision about what to do.
We just had a weekend with family members that we haven’t spent time with in years. It was one of the best uses of a second chance that I have ever seen. I saw that there was no reason to reach into the pain of it all. It was okay just to enjoy the time we were now choosing to have with one another. As we are forced into the holiday season, sooner than we are ready, I realize how much has changed in a year. There is a before 2019 and an after. The after offers a second chance every single day. It offers it to us and it offers it to you and yours. What will we do with it?