“can we have a day?”
if i sound insistent, urgent, imperative today, it’s because i am.
it couldn’t have come at a more ordinary moment. we’d been motoring about the utilitarian landscape, the backroads of suburbia, past big old houses, and strip malls, threading our way through the tangle of morning rush hour. the other car was in the shop, so i was the designated deliverer. i’d dropped one child at the schoolhouse door, the other was about to dive into a day at the courthouse, where he works twice a week, defending the otherwise undefended. i’d just mentioned that i really didn’t mind driving all over creation. didn’t mind the banal scenes out the window. didn’t mind the cold coffee tucked in the holder beside me.
we’d been laughing since the older one leapt into the car — minutes later than we needed to leave, socks not yet on his feet, his coffee cup sloshing. we’d thought we’d be late, as in the little one marked “tardy.” and for a minute there, we were cranky. or at least i was. but then the sockless one got going, got us laughing. the little one practically spit out his oatmeal, he was laughing so hard.
and so it had been for 25 minutes or so. pure straight driving and laughing, and trying not to spit out mouthfuls of oatmeal.
all i’d said was i didn’t mind driving one bit. didn’t mind clocking a good ten miles in a sliver of time when i could have been curled up with coffee and the morning’s news.
and that’s when my firstborn chimed in: “could we have a day when the two of us just bop around all day? a whole day? we just get in the car and go where we go?”
the sentence shot through the air sealed in that car. shot straight from his mouth to my soul.
the request couldn’t have been simpler, purer.
mom, could we clear a long stretch of hours, just one day’s stretch, and could you and me burrow into that sacred cocoon of time, could we savor the hours together? could we stitch together a plain old ordinary day of doing the things we love — just the two of us, in slow time?
right away, i heard and i felt the whole of that question. the layers and layers. a longing i too had long known — to spend an unbroken stretch of time with someone you dearly and deeply love, hearts sealed not by virtue of itinerary but simply by the gift of no one or nothing else getting in the way. because all you want is to be entwined, to travel across the hours, together. because all that matters, really, is proximity of the most soulful kind. is time, shared.
by the end of the day, the question couldn’t have been more profound.
by the end of the day — not more than a few hours later, really — i’d gotten word that a very dear friend had taken a terrible turn. her cancer was running amok. doctors had told her — with a rapidity that left us all breathless — that there was nothing left to do. they’d stop the chemo, they’d send her home.
or they had hoped to, anyway. now, it hardly looks likely.
and that was yesterday. this morning i am getting back in my old station wagon, and i am driving downtown. to a hospital. i am going to say goodbye to the woman who has long been the bravest traveler i know. she crossed the globe all on her own, in a trek that stitched her shattered heart stronger than ever, in a trek that taught her thousands of lessons i’ll never know. my friend is blond, naturally so, and as she glided through the dirt-packed roads of africa, then india, and china, and bali, she cut the most exotic figure. she laughed, the deepest soulful laugh, whenever she talked about how the children had flocked to her, stroked her hair, this otherworldly creature who’d dropped into their midst. she loved being surrounded by children, my friend who never birthed her own. my friend who stood beside me at my wedding. my friend who drove me to the hospital the night my bleeding would not stop. my friend who over the years learned the ways of indigenous wise women, and who once, on the eve of my own awful surgery, wafted me head to toe, heart to womb, with the smoke and the incense of the bundle of sage she pulled from her satchel, her medicine bag.
this is the second time in six months, i am saying goodbye to a blessed and beloved friend.
i know how both would answer the question: “can we just have a day?”
the answer, the imperative, is this: seize the day. seize it now. make each hour holy. do not allow the hour to fritter away, charred bits of time, lost to petty and insignificant slights.
can we just have a day?
can we just have a day to seal our hearts, to savor the joy, the truth, before it’s tugged away from us? can we revel in each other’s laughter? can we find the delight as we look out at the world passing by? can we taste deliciousness, taste the whole of it? can we dive deep into the well of each other’s company, each other’s undying love?
i can hear my friends now, both reaching up from their hours of shallow and shallower breathing, i can see the look in their eyes, the insistence, the impatience: seize the day, seize the hour or minute. seize the time that is yours. and be guided only by love. pure and simple.
please, take this day. and make it holy, pure and simple.
please whisper prayers for safe-keeping for my beautiful friend. please please, hold her in all the light you can muster……
Oh I love you so much. The reminder is potent and poignant as I wade through my day of little people, little moments of sadness, illness, cups of ice, and so much love and laughter woven through. My loved Mary image of Mater Admirablis relishes the invisible and the quiet moments. Peace be with “dear friend” and all who love her, and may it rest deep in the invisible heart and soul of you. I am just so sad, but grateful for knowing her.
you blessed angel……i love that your days are stitched with sewing love and healing into the broken parts of little people. i love that you raced to the rescue of our friend, when she too needed her very own neighborhood nurse. love you, dear lamcal. xoxox
So glad to have pulled up a chair this morning. This post is especially dear to me after an emotionally wrought week.
Offering heartfelt prayers for your dear friend.
What a beautiful way for me to set my own needs
aside and seize the day.
bless you, dear ramona…..and thank you…..
Oh dear bam, my heart is full of prayers for you this day. My little one and I are having a mommy daughter day, because daddy is at a conference with other passionate montesorri teachers and school is closed for the day. Said little one is transfixed that there is a chimney sweeper just like the ones in Mary Poppins working his magic in our den. As soon as he leaves we will be traveling down to the “fish” museum, where this little one has her heart set on seeing minnows and beta fish, little does she know that her expectations will be surpassed! Before we make the trek into the city, we are stopping by the library to pick up a chapter book on cd, as just last week she learned the wonder of chapter books and has come to like them even more than beloved bread and sweet treats.
My heart joins you as another mama, hoping that the mutual delight of spacious moments and days will be there for us with our children and our beloved husbands, who sometimes get mere moments of our days, when the call of work and motherhood make such strong tugs on our hearts.
My prayers are also with you as you find space with kindred spirits in moments that may not add up to all the days you had hoped for on this side of heaven. Where grief robs us of chronological time, may holy and sacred kairos time be with you, your dear friend and all who love her
my beautiful slj, how i love finding you here at the table, with stories about your growing-up girl. her enchantment with the chimney sweep. her love of chapter books. (might she be the youngest reader of chapter books ever on the planet, and might i not be one bit surprised???)
thank you for your prayers, and your love, and your depths of understanding every time. i miss you. xoxox
I am sorry for your loss. Again. You, indeed have had A very shitty few months. But I burst with love, admiration and envy for your relationship with ‘my little man’, as you used to call Willie. This is the future.
Andrea Lavin Solow
“This is the future….” you are so wise….
and i send love in kind. xoxox
…now and at the hour of our death, amen -praying
bless you. that line is breathtakingly beautiful. so beautiful. so especially now…..
Big prayers – as your pure heart and writing often do, I am moved to tears by your heart wide open love- for really everyone on this planet, and especially for your dear friends in need.
I will seize this day.
thank you, beautiful. thank you for seizing this and every day…..
I will !!! xx
Sent from my iPhone
thank you, sweet and beautiful mar……xoxoxo
Prayers for your friend and prayers for all who love her. I am so sorry to read this. May she know peace and light and joy without pain.
thank you dear jack. may she be lifted in radiant light….
Love you, Barbie. Have had your friend on my heart all day, praying her to heaven. There are no words, no words … holding you close.
thank you sweet sweet heart…..i know that your butterfly heart was so touched by the wings of the hummingbird……
Barbara, enveloping and permeating you and your friend with healing vibes ~~~ nance
bless you, beautiful beautiful nance…..
Holding you close in my prayers, lifting your precious friend up to the light, sending all my love. . . xxoo
thank you, my beautiful star-bestrewn friend…..
[…] Source: “can we have a day?” […]
bless you, dear susan, brave solo traveler…..
oh bam, this is so beautiful. in every way. keeping your friend in my prayers. giant hugs XOXO
thank you, sweetie. i feel comforted this gray morning, knowing you’ve wandered by. squeezing your hand. xoxox
Oh sweetie … My heart is heavy, my prayers are with you and my love reaching. We are all learning that we’re not promised tomorrow. So very sad … I’m deeply sorry. xoxox
SUCH an essential lesson…..thank you my darling.
May angels guard your dear friend these days.
As I read your words this morning, I think of you treading slowly, gracefully and so graciously through the 23 Psalm. I’m taking note.
Blessings along this day’s journey, Barbara.
thank you, dear dear elaine……
Still love reading your articles – this one is a 5 kleenex affair! How’s Teddy boy?!
teddy boy is heavenly! how is teddy boy’s favorite laurie??? xoxox
[…] on wednesday mornings, but this is no ordinary wednesday. my beloved friend, the one to whom i said goodbye on friday, the friend i’d not named here — out of respect, out of privacy — she died on […]
I love your words and I love you, so very much. I’m heartbroken for your losses and feeling some of my own, and sending love and grace and hugs. xoxo
oh, sweet angel, i love that you’ve dropped in on this afternoon when i just am stumbling along. squeezing your hand clear across the ocean. hugs and hugs. and i am so sorry for your losses. love, b.
[…] “can we have a day?,” he’d long ago asked me, a question that became a code to live by. “can we have a day?” to love and to savor? to dilly and dally and do as we please, no rules, no time clocks, no prescribed agendas? […]