I Am Not There

My baby girl is about to turn two years old tomorrow!! I tell you what, nothing makes you feel old like seeing time passing by in hyperspeed as kids grow and change right in front of your eyes! In the past two weeks, she’s been potty trained, speaks in some sentences, counts to ten by herself and is busy ordering everyone around based on the rules that she has either observed or made up herself, it’s anyone’s guess. But really, how is she so grown up already?!

I absolutely love watching her grow, and change, and be such a walking, breathing miracle, but then I catch myself —if she’s older, than what am I?! We have the same amount of days attached to our years, and I will also be another year older in 3 short weeks. I won’t tell you the number because I don’t feel it, but suffice it to say, 30 is in my rearview mirror.

I had a little moment the other day where something prompted me to think, what if this is it? What if I were not guaranteed “ripe old age”? What if I got the news that it was ending NOW. What would I do differently? What would I regret? What would I make a priority? Would anyone notice that I had walked this earth? Am I making my years count for something, or just passing the time?

I came across a poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye in a book I was reading, and it goes like this:

Do not stand at my grave and weep 
I am not there. I do not sleep. 
I am a thousand winds that blow. 
I am the diamond glints on snow. 
I am the sunlight on ripened grain. 
I am the gentle autumn rain. 
When you awaken in the morning’s hush 
I am the swift uplifting rush 
Of quiet birds in circled flight. 
I am the soft stars that shine at night. 
Do not stand at my grave and cry; 
I am not there. I did not die. 

Mary Elizabeth Frye

I loved this poem because I just felt like it totally encapsulated what I feel a believer’s life should amount to at the end – I believe that our soul goes to heaven, but I like to think that we should have made such an impact on the world around us with our spirit, our personalities and our love, that we are forever attached in memory and experience to those around us, and not merely a placeholder in the ground when our time comes.

Now, I know that to start this post out saying we are about to celebrate my baby’s birthday, and ending it talking of death, is a little incongruous and maudlin, but I remember all the time growing up hearing that heaven is more real to the elderly. And its because in our middle years we are so caught up in living life, and struggling, and working, and just being, that we forget, or refuse to acknowledge, that it will actually end one day. The reality and fragility and transience of life become so much more real when we see “those” things happen to people that we know and love, people of our own generations. Health scares, accidents, cancer, loss…the things we have heard of from generations before us are now a part of our own lives on a personal level, and it really makes you think. We actually aren’t invincible. We actually have no control. We actually will have to say goodbye one day.

So of course I was thinking then, what is my footprint? Have I even made a difference here? I want to be more focused on the things that matter, the things that will show my fingerprints, and therefore hopefully God’s hand, long after I have gone, and not so focused on the selfish and pointless things that so often plague my thoughts and take up my time. God help me to always point to You, above all. That when I am gone, people see YOU in those moments that they remember me!

With all this on my mind, I’m enjoying a beautifully sunny day with my kiddos, thanking God for the simple pleasures of life like good coffee, and a sunny afternoon at the park with birds chirping and green, green grass all around. I am going to renew my efforts to be a better parent and wife, and to make the small differences that add up over time. I’m going to celebrate our curly haired miracle turning two tomorrow with family and friends, thanking God for every moment, and I swear, I am going to try to be focused on the things that truly matter from here on out. I apologize if this sounds rather depressing, but I prefer to see it as a reality check, and a summer resolution! What can you change to make the world reflect your love?

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