I gave my son a hug last night before bed. He always tried to extend the nighttime ritual and he knew asking for extra hugs was a good way to do it. I always told my children that I would never say ‘no’ to a hug. I heard one time that you should hug your children, really hug them, and hold onto them until they let go. You never knew how much hugging your child needed so you should hold onto them until they were ready to let go. I tried to always remember that. So, as I was hugging my son, his head in the crook of my neck like he did when he was a baby; I just held on. I felt his breath on my neck and smelled the scent of shampoo in his hair. I rubbed his back gently and soaked in every last drop of him. I didn’t want him to let go. I wanted to hold him like that forever.
It had been a stressful day. After work, I managed to get through our evening activities and then was thankful that it was bedtime. I couldn’t wait to get the kids to bed and just take a moment. All I wanted to do was sit on the couch or have a cup of tea or maybe go to bed. I wasn’t sure what I wanted but I just wanted a break. Then, in the middle of that long nighttime hug, I started to cry. The tears fell from my eyes but I wiped them before they hit my cheeks so my son didn’t know. Those tears were full of the hits I took in stride all day, the words I held inside, the feelings of not measuring up. I held on tighter to my seven year old son and hoped that he didn’t let go. It wasn’t just him who needed that hug.
Whenever I got stressed out, overwhelmed or felt inadequate; I remembered one thing. I was still here. These moments, simple ones, these were the ones I was afraid I was going to miss. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I used to wonder if I would be there to tuck in the kids at bedtime. See, I look at things differently. I am now living on what I call “borrowed time”.
Everything was different now. I felt like each day was a bonus, a gift from God to work on living this life the way I wanted. When I was diagnosed, things changed instantaneously. As soon as I found out I had cancer, all I wanted was to be with my children and my family. So many things that were important on August 30th weren’t so important any more on August 31st. I used to have big plans for my business. I had just opened a second child care center but I wanted more, maybe 4 of them. If that went well, why not open more? Now, work was the last thing on my mind. I didn’t want to spend my time and my energy on work. I wanted to spend my time and energy on life.
Not that I didn’t still love what I did. I just realized that what I had … was enough. All that I had was enough. I didn’t need a bigger business. I didn’t need more things. I didn’t need anything but my family and the people who rallied around me in my time of need. When I finished my treatment and I had a second chance at this life, I vowed to do it right this time. I was going to live a simpler life. I was going to stop worrying about the wrong things and start focusing on the right ones.
But that night… as I hugged my son…I knew that I had to make a change. As life was slowly returning to normal, I seemed to have forgotten all those lessons I had learned during my fight with cancer. I was getting caught up in the every day, the hustle and bustle and forgetting to enjoy the here and now and let the little things go. God gives us moments and if we are open to them, we can learn from them. I believe that hug from my son was a moment, a lesson and a gift from God. It was a reminder that even when I had a bad day, life was full of blessings. As I hugged my little boy, I let go of all of those things that clutter my mind and I let love and peace fill my heart.