My wife and I communicate very differently. For example I will say I talked to daughter # 1 about X and my wife will say Did you ask her about Y and Z? No, I will reply I only called to ask her about X which will start a side conversation about how could I only ask her about X without knowing about Y and Z? The communication issues between us boils down to this, I want the short version of everything and she wants the long version. She wants to know how the sausage is made, I just want to put it in a bun and eat it.
I have learned in 32 years of marriage to pick my communication battles. Sometimes I have to let her give me the back-story and the side-story and the up-story to get to the point of the story, particularly when the “point” deals with our children. I know better than to poke a Momma bear with a stick. But there are other conversations when I feel myself drifting off or my eyes beginning to glaze over and I have to ask, politely “Darling, can you skip to the end?”
I can summarize a topic in ten words that would take my lovely, caring, beautiful wife fifty. Our oldest, who looks like her Momma spit her out, communicates like I do, short, matter of fact burst of words. Our youngest, who there is no question who her Daddy is, communicates like her Mother just at warp speed. It is an interesting dynamic but one that I am eternally grateful to be a part of.
My kids are 28 and 25 years old. I remember everything about the day both of them were born. What day of the week it was, what time it was and what the weather was like on that particular day. But for some reason I can’t remember what I had for dinner last night. In those 28 years there have been great days, happy days, sad days, stressful days and days that I thought I just wanted to skip to the end. But as I think back now I wish I could have stretched some of those days out just a little longer, had a little more time, or paid a little more attention.
Don’t skip to the end. There are events that happen in our lives that we all wish we could just skip to the end. Likewise, there are days and moments that we wish would last forever. But the good and the bad, the happy and the sad all have one thing in common, they make our life real. They make us who we are.
I would love to go back to that hot July afternoon 23 years ago watching my then five-year old picking clover in the outfield rather than paying attention to what was going on in the infield of her T-ball game at the YMCA. I didn’t know then that day, that precious moment would end and simply become a memory of the past. I couldn’t have done anything to extend that moment except to be truly in it with all my heart and soul.
Thinking back on the 35-year-old me, I was probably sitting in the stands, sweating, thinking about work or an email or call I was missing none of which I remember today. None of which probably made a difference that day or any day since. What is burned in my memory though is a sweet child, my child, standing in a grassy field without a care in the world, busy picking clover as a T-ball game carried on without her. Don’t skip to the end.
I am a mushy, sentimental guy. Always have been, always will be. And sadly, for those that have to live with me, the older I get the more mushy and sentimental I have become. I know that there is more life behind me than there is in front me. I get it. And fortunately, with both this enlightenment and realization I am more determined than ever to drag whatever time I have left out as long as possible even if it means listening to the long version of my wife and daughters stories.
Don’t skip to the end. Bask in the glory of the seconds, the minutes and the moments that sweep over us so quickly that if we blink we miss them. Relish and savor the short time we have on this earth, a creation with flaws but also majesties we may never experience again. Don’t skip to the end, the end will be here soon enough.