Why Miss the Moment?

It’s never too late to start; it’s never too early to begin.

One of my closest friends is living with terminal cancer. I selected the verb very consciously here, and “living” is exactly what I mean. As we talked the other day about the latest developments in her treatment plan, she said, “I no longer look at this as a journey or a battle. I am simply living my life.”

My friendship with Elizabeth has been a long and beautiful dance of conversation, back and forth, between the two of us. We both love words. We choose them carefully and aren’t afraid to use them to the fullest extent needed. But we don’t toss them around lightly, either. In high school, my parents used to say that we talked so fast they could hardly understand us. We’ve never been at a loss for things to say to one another. Yet, we are also very comfortable sharing silence.

Early on, we dubbed our most cherished conversations as “1:00 a.m. chats,” named after the hour at which we seemed to get to the root of whatever story, fear, hope or secret most needed sharing. Over our 31 years of friendship, I couldn’t even begin to guess how many of these chats we’ve had.

We live 1,424 miles apart now (yes, I checked on google maps), making our face to face conversations far less frequent than in our younger years when we were just down the road from one another. We do visit periodically, but in the interim we are adept at substituting phone and text messages to keep our conversation ever present. When Elizabeth learned last year that her cancer had metastasized, those texts and phone calls began to feel like a life line. We have chatted during blood transfusions and chemo. We have texted during pedicures and our kids’ sporting events.

Not too long ago, we met in Northern California for a weekend away together. The small house we rented had a lovely deck with a hot tub overlooking a beautiful olive orchard. Each night after dinner, we sat in the hot tub watching the moon rise and talking. On our last night, we turned on a digital recorder and let it run as we talked. Back and forth, with candor and laughter, we narrated the story of how we met— the history of our friendship— for our kids, we said, but in truth mostly for ourselves.

Meandering, as we always do, to wherever the conversation leads us, Elizabeth began to tell me of a recent morning when her husband was getting up before sunrise to hike a trail in the Blue Hills near their home in Massachusetts. Tired, she was just about to wish him a happy hike when she changed her mind and decided to join him. She told me the sunrise had been gorgeous that morning and the moment with her husband at the trail’s summit an irreplaceable memory now, both for her and for him. She looked at me incredulously and said, “Why did I even think twice before deciding to go? Why would I want to miss that moment?”

In the dance of conversation, Elizabeth had unearthed an important question, and we both knew it. Why miss the moment? We actually repeated it several times as we sat in the hot tub, as if imprinting it on our brains. After all, it’s not easy to break habits of routine or responsibility. So we said it to one another almost like a chant: “Why miss the moment? Why miss the moment?” Under the full moon and star-filled sky, everything seemed so obvious and clear.

It’s never too late to start; it’s never too early to begin. So why miss the moment?

23 Comments on “Why Miss the Moment?

  1. so moving..and so true! Thank you for sharing Lucy…your words are beautiful and Elizabeth is inspiring

  2. Beautiful story, Lucy! Thank you for inspiring us to use our “moments”.

  3. Thanks so much for all the kind comments. This story is near and dear to my heart, as you can tell. It’s really so simple, but I figure we all can use the reminder to pause and savor what’s right in front of us. I know I need it daily!

  4. Wonderful advice! Thanks for sharing:) My best friend from high school just left my house this morning. We don’t get to spend as much time together, but your words and your story with Elizabeth reminded me of the importance of taking time out of our busy lives to connect and stay connected.

    • Thanks so much, Jamee. A friend of mine from high school emailed me with very similar sentiments to yours about the importance of taking time to maintain the most precious connections we’ve made in our lives. He went on to say: “Friendships that are born when we are young, like that of yours and Elizabeth’s, or mine with each of you, comes with an integrity and and honesty that is truly part of the foundation of our character. There are few periods in our lives after the age of 21 that we are afforded the time to develop and explore such profound friendships.” What cool terrain this is of friendships, of living fully in each moment and of recognizing how those closest to us help us become who we are meant to be.

  5. Thank you, Lucy, for a little reminder of our “time remaining”. So much to see, do and say. Why not now?

  6. Thanks so much Lucy. My wife and I, often have to ‘force’ ourselves to seize the moment with our young boys, but your comments serve to underscore our determination to embrace as many moments as we can….

    • Thanks, TDC, very much. I appreciate your stopping in to this side of my blog world, since we most often correspond about wine over at The Thirsty Kitten. It seems to me that we are all in the same boat you describe of needing nudges to remember to seize the moment. At least I know I do!

  7. Pingback: In Remembrance ~ The Passing of a Dear Friend « The Thirsty Kitten

  8. A friend just passed this along. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend from whom you have gained so much. That can never be taken away. Thank you for this lesson.

  9. I am one of Elizabeth’s Milton friends and wanted to let you know that I have read this so many, many times since you posted it on her page and have also passed the link along to others. You not only capture our dear friend so beautifully, but your piece is a wonderful tribute to the value and wisdom we gain from our female friendships. I’ve heard so much about you over the years from Elizabeth and look forward to meeting you later this month.
    Thank you for this.

    • Thank you so much for your note. I was teary eyed as I read it. I so appreciate being part of such a large circle of friends as Elizabeth had. I feel enormous support and comfort being held in such good company. I am so glad you found the piece true to the essence of Elizabeth and you are so very right about the value of our female friendships. Please do find me and say hello at her service. In the meantime, I send big hugs.

  10. Lucy, I have thought of you so often since Elizabeth’s passing. A memory I hold dear is our brief time together five years ago with Elizabeth. I was inspired then by the story of your long distance training for the three day walk and you’ve inspired me once again. xoxo Sandra

    • Sandra, your note means so much to me. Thanks for writing. Somehow how I missed it ’til now. I am so glad that you came to our reunion that year– you were a welcome addition to our class! I, too, have been thinking of you. I was so sad to learn of your mom’s passing. Sending you much love and big hugs, Lucy

  11. Lucy, I am a West Chop friend of Elizabeth’s, and I have found such comfort in your insightful post. You have completely captured Elizabeth in the quote, “Why did I even think twice before deciding to go? Why would I want to miss that moment?” I can almost hear her voice saying it, and I can certainly imagine her turning to me, as we sat on the beach in those awkward low chairs with the plastic webbing, and asking it. I have printed out the post and have it in my desk drawer to reread periodically. Elizabeth and I used to play tennis together at West Chop; I just agreed to enter a tennis tournament here in London with her quote in mind. Why would I let this experience pass me by, even though there are a hundred reasons why I should be doing something else?
    Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    • Nancy,
      Thank you for writing! I am glad that you can hear Elizabeth’s voice in the story. She so loved West Chop and tennis. I was touched when she told me just this past August at the Vineyard that she thought she might just go to the tennis courts and watch people play. Made me smile to think that even when she couldn’t hit the courts herself, she was doing everything she could to enjoy what she’d always enjoyed. We will miss her, huh? Along with so many others. I am delighted to hear about your tennis tournament in London and the “why miss the moment” attitude of Elizabeth’s that nudged you to sign up. Smiling at the thought that all of who loved her are taking her attitude all over the world with us. Big hugs and have fun in your tournament!

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