Friday, September 29, 2006

Little Things & Big Things

Dear Rachel,

At first it was the “big things” that got to me. The realization that I would never get to share some of those defining moments with you, that certain important milestones would never be reached. I’ll never get to walk you down the aisle. Never watch (all blubbery and teary-eyed, no doubt) as you get an award, accept a big promotion, or walk across the stage to get that master’s degree. I’ll never be able to call on you for advice—instead of the other way around—as I enter my dotage and am wondering about where (and how!) to live, how to maximize my savings, etc. (You were supposed to be around to help out your doddering old dad, you know.) I’ll never get to marvel that my “little girl” is now 40 years old. Never help you move into that first real house of your own. Never get that phone call from you: “Better sit down. Are you sitting? OK, well, you’re about to become a great-grandfather.” (Not so sure I was looking forward to that one anyway.)

So many big moments we’ll never share.

These days, though, it’s mainly the “little things” that I think about. I see a young woman on the playground help her child master the monkey bars, and I think, “Rachel will never help Shaylyn do that.” I see a nice sunset or a beautiful white cloud against a bright blue background and think, “Rachel can’t see this.” The telephone rings and I think, “That won’t be—can’t be—Rachel.” A country song comes on the radio and I think, “Rachel really likes George Strait, but she can’t hear this.” I pull up next to a car in which a young woman is smiling and talking on her cell phone and I think, “Rachel always did that—but no more.”

A thousand little things remind me of you.

Those little things add up and they occur all the time and they hurt a lot. The world isn’t really made up of those big things, of large moments of huge import, is it? Instead it’s a collection of thousands of seemingly unimportant little things; a never-ending stream of small moments that eventually become—well, whatever we make of them, I suppose. Canadian poet Robert Brault advised us to learn to “enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” And, as it turns out, they were.