We use the word "perspective" quite a bit, or at least it seems that way. We are always saying, "To put it into perspective..."
And that's what I've been doing for the past few hours.
My friend, Katie Granju, has a critically ill son. You can read about his most recent journey here, if you choose.
H is in critical, nay dire, condition today.
Instead of going to graduation parties or throwing one for H, himself, Katie is sitting beside his bed in an intensive care unit, listening to a ventilator breathe for him. Every time the baby inside her, due in July, moves, I am sure that just intensifies his stillness.
I can't even begin to imagine.
After the year I've had, I thought I'd learned about focusing on what is important and keeping things in perspective.
But H's story is sharpening that focus. As my kids get older and older, I realize that parenting gets more and more complicated. Whereas I used to be concerned about choking on hot dogs or kids not holding my hand in a parking lot, now I'm wondering, "Do they know all they need to know about birth control?" and "Will they remember and act upon the values I've tried to instill?" and "Will other drivers see my kids' car?" Ultimately, what it boils down to is a realization that I have very little control over them any more.
While H has made a series of "bad choices," --my how innocent those words sound coming out of the mouths of mothers of elementary school and preschool aged children...."Tommy, you made a bad choice when you snatched that truck away from Johnny"....--which ultimately led him down the path to the position he is in now, the roulette of genetics compounded them all, and now he, his mother, their family, friends, an entire community is being affected by it.
This is what is helping me keep things in perspective.
True, the pile of disorganized, wet shoes left in front of my kitchen door is highly annoying. True, the teen angst that seems to roil just below the surface all the dang time puts my teeth on edge.
True, I've slacked in my parenting duties this past year.
However, every day with my children is a gift. Every memory we make could be the last. I need to keep that in mind and work to make better memories. I need to not sweat the small stuff, because it is NOT all small stuff. Lots of stuff is pretty large.
As I was writing this entry, H died. His suffering has ended. Others' has just begun.
Hug your loved ones and friends.