If Not Now, When?

by Laura

Went to see Peter Gabriel last night at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly. You can tell I’m not used to living in a big city, because the 2.5 hour traffic jam surprised me. (There was also a Phillies home game. Hell, it might have been easier to see a show at the Meadowlands. Walking past the shouting thousands at Citizens Bank Park, I said, “Look honey! This is about as close as I will ever get to a Phillies game!” I really wouldn’t recommend seeing a show on the same night as a home game, if you can help it.)

I any event, it was the first time in longer than I can remember that I felt like I was doing the absolute right thing, that I was in the right place at the right time. It was the first honestly good feeling I’ve had in quite a while. That’s sad, but also inspiring. If I can remember what that feels like, then I can make a greater effort to try to achieve it again in the near future.

In the last year, my mom started saying, “If not now, when?” She had pens and notepads inscribed with it and handed them out at a family gathering. I disliked the phrase, if only because my life has been on hold for too long. In this economy, married to a journalist, we’ve had no choice but to put things aside and ride out the storm. In my twenties, I had a carpe diem mentality, but in my thirties, I’ve been doing a lot of waiting. I didn’t like being reminded that life can be short and you have to make it count. Hard to make the minutes count when you have a screaming toddler, a defiant 3rd grader, and are sharing a car with someone who works 80 or more hours a week.

But last night felt right. Costly, inconvenient, difficult on the kids, a pain in the ass for the relative we recruited to watch them, and more exhausting than I anticipated, but right. His voice is healing, and as easy as hiding tears in a shower, my emotions got lost in the music.

Last night, for the first time since she died, I had a dream about my mom. It wasn’t about her, really, but she was in it. I caught myself mid-dream thinking, “Here she is! You have her again! Go ask her advice! Go tell her how grateful you are. Now’s your chance! Go!” But I didn’t, because she was just there and we were just living our normal life without urgency, just the way we did. It was a nice reminder that we were too busy living to focus on the possibility of her dying. It reassured me that the way we had been at the end wasn’t wrong. We were being as normal as possible. Maybe she needed that. Maybe we both did. I don’t know. I can’t change it. There’s no point in even considering it, other than the fact that my semi-evolved monkey mind can’t help it.

There shouldn’t be anything easier to comprehend than death. It’s as simple as on and off. And yet, it preoccupies me. I feel as if my brain is walking through sand.