“I’m just fine. I’m happy. That’s the main thing- to be happy.”
These are the words of my 93-year-old grandmother this morning. Words spoken one day after she was transported by ambulance back to the hospital to be checked after falling from her nursing home bed. Words spoken one week after emergency hip replacement and wrist surgery resulting from a fall; a fall, which happened by an elevator outside an apartment where she couldn’t have known she’ll now never return.
My grandma is 93 years old. I know she is nearing the end of her life; a long, full life. I know this, and I’ve known this, for a long time, and yet, her fall has been a shock. I am suddenly forced to acknowledge that she will not live forever. With this acknowledgement has come a flood of overwhelming nostalgic feelings. So often, I wish life were cyclical rather than linear. If only I could go back for a day and truly enjoy being in that moment. I took so much for granted. I always wanted time to speed up. I wanted to see what’s coming up next...can’t I just take a peek at the last page of the book? Puh-lease?
This feeling of constantly looking forward is one I’ve known even more intimately since marrying the military. We PCS (Permanent Change of Station for my non-military friends...aka move), boxes are still piled high, and we’re already talking about the next move. What are our options? Dude, I haven’t even found a dentist yet for my overdue preventative teeth cleaning! Take a breath!
Just live in the moment!
This is a tall order when your whole life is built around 1-3 year stints. We’re always looking ahead.
Ahead to the next move, weighing the pros and cons of attempting to settle in this current location. I can try to love it here and face heartbreak, or I can put the visor down and just surface-live here. Maybe leaving will be easier that way.
Ahead to an upcoming deployment, urging children to go ahead and rush that next growth milestone so Daddy or Mommy doesn’t miss it. Cramming in everything you might want to accomplish; 6 months worth of activities into the last 6 weeks.
Ahead to homecoming, the reunion at the end of a deployment, wishing time increments of 6, 9, 12+ months to hurry up and fly by.
But, what are we giving up with all this forward-thinking? This question comes to you from a natural forward-thinker. I thought about college in middle school. Where would I go, what would I do with my life? I can tell you my plan was not to graduate from the University of Virginia and work at a restaurant called Crabs We Got ‘Em (a fabulous job, on a fabulous beach, with fabulous people, btw.) But, not the plan. The second I met my now husband, and the military, my plan derailed.
Do we sit in this derailment and mourn the could-have-been’s, or do we get back on track; maybe just a different track? I admit I often like my main course planning with a hearty side of pity party.
Our goal in building MAVAN is to give military spouses stability. Through skill-building and employment experience, providing a steady track that remains despite other plans that seem to derail when sudden orders are received. Providing one way to remain focused on today; this moment. Providing something consistent despite a changing address.
With Thanksgiving approaching, I am reminded to pause and express thanks. I’m thankful for my family and the lessons they teach me. I’m thankful for the life plan that derailed. I’m thankful for you.
My grandmother’s words remind me to pause. Take a moment to stop dreaming about yesterday and anticipating tomorrow. Take a moment to be thankful and see the happiness in today. I invite you to join me as I hit the pause button. Pause a moment and really dive into it. Head first. Dive into today. Because in the end, “I’m just fine. I’m happy. That’s the main thing- to be happy.”