The Best Things

Eek…it’s September already! I know that some people get a rush from flipping the calendar page to the next month, but no matter how well I spent my days, I am generally not one of those people. I want to linger a little longer over August.

We’re back in Grand Rapids now, after two weeks away in Florida. (Ian and I were gone for two weeks; Evan just joined us for the last weekend.) I’m still mulling over this vacation a bit, considering the ways it was a strange mix of both disappointment and goodness. Just after we arrived in Florida, my sweet Nanny was hospitalized with a perforated colon and all the complications that come along with that for someone in their 80’s. We had a few very scary and grim days, but I’m relieved to say she’s healing and progressing, and it looks like she may make it out of this whole ordeal without even needing surgery. That seems like a miracle given the initial prognosis we were given. It’s no small thing.

So, this vacation was full of hospital visits. On other days, it was just Ian and me at my parents’ house while the rest of the family was working or visiting with Nanny. (A two year old can only spend so much time in a hospital room, you know?) Along the way, I [mildly] hurt my ankle and spent several afternoons on the couch with an ice pack. So, it was both the big and small things that made this vacation feel a bit strange. In Simply Tuesday, Emily Freeman wrote that we often hesitate to admit disappointments because we don’t want to seem ungrateful, which is exactly how I’m feeling. It’s a cliche, I suppose, but nothing lends perspective like a loved one growing suddenly very, very ill, and I’m so, so grateful that we were in Florida to spend that time with Nanny, and for every other sweet and special moment with friends and family that we had in between trips to the hospital.

On the day we headed back to Michigan, Oliver Sacks died. I haven’t read his books, but I do have a sort of regard for his work and his role in American arts and sciences. I went back and read his NYT op-ed about learning he had terminal cancer. In it, he says,  “There is no time for anything inessential.” I can’t stop thinking about that. Me being me, my initial tendency is to feel guilty about all the ways I might be wasting my time. I start devaluing things left and right, deeming this podcast or that hobby or this blog post inessential. But I wonder if I might instead look at that statement as a benediction, a kind and gentle reminder of the best way to move forward from one moment to the next.

After Evan’s flight arrived on Friday, we left Tampa and drove to Orlando for Amethyst and Glenn’s wedding. I think it was the most wonderful wedding I’ve been a part of. Of course, that’s due in part to how special Amethyst is to me, how valuable and life-giving her friendship has been over the past 16 years (16!), how I admire her so fully that it felt like an honor to be a bridesmaid. But there was also the realization that everyone in the room felt that way: that these are some of the best people ever, and what a joy to celebrate alongside them. The feeling was contagious.

From the timeline of the day, to the vendors, to the traditions included or excluded, all the guests knew that Amethyst and Glenn were acting on that same principle: no time for anything inessential. Faith, family, and friendship…that was it. Every moment felt meaningful.

As the calendar changes to September, I am getting excited for our first autumn in Michigan, but I sense in myself the very easy tendency to get distracted. (I’m thinking a lot about cider mills and cinnamon and decorating with pumpkins.) Of course, there’s nothing wrong with any of that; I’m not saying necessarily that they’re inessential (although, maybe).

But I came home from this vacation reminded that ultimately, the best things are still the best things. Faith. Family. Friendship. (With some fun and creativity in the mix for good measure.) It was both the disappointments–my random ankle injury, the difficulty of being away from Evan, Nanny’s hospitalization–and the celebrations–watching my sister have a great week back at work, Ian’s birthday, Amethyst & Glenn’s wedding–that helped remind me of this. Of course, God uses both the disappointments and the celebrations to teach me because He is present with me in the midst of them all.

No time for anything inessential.


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