By Jacki Michels, for the Redoubt Reporter
The time we dread does not often blow a whistle to warn us of an impending wreck. It strikes and pulls the floor from beneath our feet when we least expect it.
It is the moment when the phone rings. You answer it and hear the words that you hear, but you cannot begin to fathom their meaning. You stand there, frozen, trying to figure out how to breathe. You will hear, repeat, process and comprehend nothing, except that what you hear cannot be.
What to do next is a thought frozen in cement.
As you swim in the murkiness of awareness, you might be able to flash back on when the car broke down for the third time in a month and the batteries in the other one bit the dust. Out of desperation you turned back to the cold, old truck. Thinking back, you laughed right out loud as it started up like a champ.
Later, when the tow truck brought you and your trusty old truck home, you said, “Oh well, things could’ve been worse, at least no one is sick or dying.” Perhaps you creatively cursed the automobile industry. Secretly, you may have felt sorry for yourself and grumbled at the expense, the inconvenience.
Then comes real inconvenience of dealing with an actual crisis. One where the worse is no longer a “could have been.” Perhaps in your mind’s struggle to make sense, you will think of all your ever-revolving chores and endless obligations. How will that get done? Who will care for the animals when you depart?
You arrive, physically, ahead of your brain. You wait — for news, for sense, for your mind to catch up — sitting at a station whose offices you fear and are not familiar with. Passageways have long halls called odd things, like Denial, Bargaining, Anger, and so on. The itinerary is not clear as to how long you will spend pacing these halls. You will not know the final destination for some time, or what the scenery will look like when you arrive.
That’s where we’ve been at, my family and I, after our eldest son, Jake, sustained a serious head injury. Physically at the hospital in Seattle, then back home, but mentally wandering somewhere between the before, the after and the future.
So, folks, while this column usually finds the funny in the every day, sometimes, no matter how you look at it, there are times when there is no funny to be found.
I think of those movies, where the theme is to love before it’s too late. Take notes. Learn the lesson. Go right ahead and love deeply. Interrupt making a living for making a life. Don’t hesitate to say you are sorry. Generously spend your time and money. Freely forgive everyone, including yourself. Life has enough baggage, so check your grudges, worries, regrets and insecurities at the gate.
Open your arms wide. Call, write, text, email, fax, Skype or send a telegram. Keep your boundaries low. Expose your heart. Cry, kiss, hug and smooch all you can. Laugh extravagantly. Go ahead and make a fool of yourself in expressing love. What better reason? Don’t miss any opportunity, because you never know when you will be waiting and wishing you had done it a lot more heartily and a whole lot more often.
There will be times when all you have left after the smoke has cleared is the small and lovely thought that you are so achingly grateful for that last conversation. No doubt you will replay its sweetness in your mind, because it’s not a matter of maybe, but for certain, that those opportunities will end. It will happen for all of us, it’s only a matter of when.
Jacki Michels is a wife, mom and freelance writer in Soldotna.