Five years ago my life changed in an instant. The last words I ever spoke to my husband before I found him lifeless, were as mundane as they come. “In the corner cabinet with the canned food. I’m stopping at the grocery store to get coffee beans. See you soon.” He had called to ask me where the extra pizza sauce was because I left the ingredients for homemade pizza on the countertop before I left for my hair appointment and he thought the pizza needed more sauce. He told me we also needed lunch meat and something else. “Got it,” I said, and hung up. I arrived at the grocery store moments later, having already forgotten one of the items he asked me to bring and swiftly sent a text: Lunch meat and what else? And then moments later: Nevermind. I remembered.
I don’t remember anymore. I have no idea what that something else was because the fact is, the something else, doesn’t matter. I also can’t remember if I told him that I loved him or if I kissed him when he got home from work that day, before I left for my appointment. We were talking about the kids and dinner and some terrible news he had received from a friend, but I can’t, for the life of me, remember if I kissed him and told him I loved him before I left. All I know is that our last real conversation was about pizza sauce, lunch meat and something else.
For quite awhile it truly bothered me that I can’t remember what something else was. I also played the “what if” game. What if I hadn’t made a hair appointment for that day? What if I had canceled the appointment, as I’d thought about doing because I truly did have way too much work to do. Ultimately, I didn’t because I truly needed that one hour escape with my hairstylist and friend every 4 or 5 weeks, because as a busy working mom of three little ones, that was sometimes the only social time I had! What if I had come right home rather than stopping at the grocery store? What if I had just kept going when I almost missed the turn? What if I hadn’t stayed so long at the grocery store wandering around in the empty aisles? Maybe nothing would be different; maybe some of it would.
You can get stuck forever playing the “What if?” game. Thank goodness I didn’t.
After a few days I told myself it was time to stop the “what ifs” and focus on the moments right in front of me at that very moment. I could not change the past. But I could change the way I live my life. What if I flipped the “What if” game on its head and asked myself how to change my life for the better moving forward just by shifting my mindset?
What if I worried less about the something elses and more about the I love yous? What if I lived like Mark did and spoke my mind and shared my heart and didn’t worry what people would think of me? What if I realized that the things and people that bring me down are no longer meant for me? What if I built my life around the things that bring me joy: my children, my photography, making other people happy with my talents, making time to take care of myself? What if I have the dessert? What if I take the vacation? What if I go to the concert? What if I do yoga everyday? What if I buy myself flowers? What if I stop worrying and simply forget about the something else? Because the only thing that matters is right here, right now.
One day at a time I’ve shifted the landscape of my life, simply by changing my perspective. But I’m still learning. I’m a work in progress and I’m human. I have to remind myself often that it is okay to let the kids make a mess and that I can’t please everyone and that sometimes I will get stressed worrying about the future and as much as I try to live in the moment, things don’t always go as planned and once in awhile I will get wrapped up in the little mundane something elses that don’t really matter. But what if when that happens I just take a deep breath and move on to the next moment, right here, right now. Because that’s really all we have.
“When joy is a habit, love is a reflex.” -Bob Goff