Monday, October 13, 2014

The Hour

I just turned 45. I feel so young, but am also aware that my wonderful Mom only lived to be one year older than I am now. It has me thinking about purpose and how to use the time that I have here. It also reminded me of this post:

Tomorrow and Tomorrow:



In the dark theater, made darker by the wood paneling and Elizabethan flourishes, I prayed. Hard. I didn’t care about anyone seeing me, eyes closed, hands clenched tightly, lips moving quickly and noiselessly. What mom wouldn't understand my praying right now?
Jack’s class was about to take the stage at the Folger Shakespeare Library to perform an abridged version on Macbeth. Jack, who had just turned twelve, was playing Macbeth. It was almost more than my nerves could take.  “Please don’t let him forget his lines. Help him not to be frozen like a deer in the headlights and then run weeping from the stage. Help him!”
When Jack confided the night before during snuggle time that he was afraid of getting up on that stage, I dished out my regular fare. “Your nervousness just means you care about how it goes. That’s adrenaline. It will help you focus and do well. That’s always how it works with me,” said the woman who had never, ever graced a stage unless you counted delivering one line as Tiny Tim in a church basement production of A Christmas Carol “God Bless Us Everyone.” Indeed.
“God, please bless Jack. Now!”

The spotlights turned on. Jack hit every line and nailed his entrances and exits. He even had to go with a change of plans when time was short and change from one shirt to another on stage versus offstage.
Acting was Jack’s sweet spot.
Even though in conversation he spoke so quickly he was sometimes hard to understand, in acting he enunciated clearly. When I’d pick him up from school or a sporting event I’d find my mother heart asking, “How did it go?" but really meaning, "Was it a disaster?” but when I’d pick him up from theater camps, it was like picking up a mini rock star. “Hey Jack’s mom! Jack rocks!” counselors would yell across the parking lot.

We didn’t record the whole play, but Tim did turn on his phone to capture this famous soliloquy:


“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,


Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,


To the last syllable of recorded time;


And all our yesterdays have lighted fools


The way to dusty death. Out, out brief candle!


Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player


That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,


And then is heard no more. It is a tale


Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,


Signifying nothing.”


Act 5, scene 5, 19-28

It guess it was Shakespeare’s version of our 1980’s mantra, “Life’s a bitch and then you die.” It’s tough to watch any movies with Jack in them, but even more so as he delivers such a depressing indictment of our short, meaningless lives, only 3 months before his accident.

I have the hope of heaven, and like many bereaved moms, I operate with one foot here and one foot there. Death holds no sting or fear for me at all anymore.
 
But what about now? But what about the in between time, when I'm charged with continuing on, with living? Did Macbeth get it all wrong? Is there meaning in this life? Is there vitality and spirituality and significance right here? Right now?
I believe there is. Our lives may be short, but they are not meaningless. I don't  know what I plan on doing with the rest of my days, but I know I don't want to just strut and fret my hour on the stage. And I'm guessing watching reality tv and eating ice cream, which are my current past-times, are not quite the meaning and significance I'm thinking of...
What about you?
What are you doing with your awesome, hard, significant hour?






27 comments:

Korinthia Klein said...

45 is good. I like being 45 and I hope you like it, too.

Thank you for sharing such a beautiful post, and reminding people you don't even know to value what we have.

I am using my time this week to make Halloween costumes because I like the challenge and nothing beats making my kids smile to feel my life has meaning.

Gigi said...

I've been pondering along the same lines. Surely there is more to life than sitting in front of a screen all day and all night.

Ashley Brown said...

I love your honesty and openness. Every time I read your posts, I'm left with a better perspective, one that isn't so self centered.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Reading those lines and thinking of your sweet Jack brings tears to my eyes.
Wishing you birthday blessings.

Kristie said...

3 years ago, at age 48, I decided I wanted to make a difference. I had always thought that volunteering at an animal shelter would be too sad for me. I finally took the plunge and started volunteering. It is sad there, but it is so fulfilling to know that there are a lot of dogs and cats in homes today that would not be alive if I had not helped to get them out. I also have about 100 new wonderful dog rescue friends. In the south where I live there is a constant stream of animals turned in to the shelters and a dire need for volunteers. There are not as many homeless dogs in the north, but we do send lots of animals up your way for adoption and they need people to coordinate their journey. Perhaps you could help an animal rescue organization. I highly recommend it!

Theresa said...

Sometimes life is most significant in its Un awesome hours. Birthday blessings.

IrishRN07 said...

I love this post Anna, thank you for the food for thought. Also, WOW is Jack handsome.

Lorie said...

Happy Happy Birthday Anna dear! Happy days will come to you all year. If I had a wish, then it would be, a happy happy birthday to you from me!

run4daysbill said...

Such power in your words. I am always, always better because of your amazing writing. Thank you.

Rhina said...

Thanks for this and happy birthday. 45 is next on my list of birthdays and I think about time so much these days. This post made me think of telling you about my post (and I promise it's not a ploy to get you to my blog): http://justrhina.wordpress.com/2013/12/29/its-all-temporary/. Your story, Jack's story, has stuck with me and I think of you often as I parent my two kids. Thank you for sharing it.

Carolyn Rill said...

Anna - I love this posting of yours. I know I have read it before. Absolutely true and heart-felt for me are your words...I have the hope of heaven. I live my life with one foot here and one foot there [words a bit different]. Death has no sting for me anymore; I no longer fear it....and while I look forward to the glory and promise of what heaven holds for me, I know that this life holds great meaning. I too am unsure of what my life holds next, but I intend to make it meaningful, and experience its loveliness <3

Steph said...

Happy birthday to you! Wow, those pictures of Jack are breathtakingly gorgeous and bring tears. Wishing you peace and love.

Anonymous said...


Like the book, "The Five People You Meet in Heaven", I think our lives are rich with meaning even when we don't realize the impact we are having on someone else.

The 40's are good. I'm working on embracing my 50's. (I have a five year old who helps keep me young - yes I actually got pregnant for the second time at 45!)

tt said...

that quote is one i still remember from high school english. and just recently i used part of it in the book i'm writing (saying how high school was a good place to strut and fret for this one particular girl..) and what about now? my greatest accomplishment (so far) has been being a good parent. now that my own birds are (mostly) fledged, i can focus more on making yet more meaning in my own life, which is telling stories that help make the world a better place.

kiris40 said...

I spend my fair share of time on tv etc too, but feel most centred when I take the time and risk to truly connect to others.

Jenny from the Block said...

Interesting that this is your topic today. The topic at our Compassionate Friends meeting last night was simply, "What next?" We talked about this interim time and how to make it meaningful.

I didn't pipe up last night because it was a larger meeting. Since your topic is similar, I'll pipe up here.

What's next for me is a blog I've been working on setting up. I've decided it's time, as my Facebook posts are nearly always about what I'm going through after losing my 19-year-old son. I joined a writer's group and carve out time to write at a coffee shop while my little guy is in preschool.

My Inner Chick said...

*****I have the hope of heaven, and like many bereaved moms, I operate with one foot here and one foot there. (YEsssssS) Death holds no sting or fear for me at all anymore. YEssssssssS!!!

You. Inspire. Me.

GREATLY.

Beautiful. Just Beautiful.

HAPPY 45th. xx

Anonymous said...

I know in your hour, you've inspired many. Happy Birthday!

Jamie Reese said...

With one foot here and one foot there, I've signed with an adoption agency at 44!!! clearly I've gone insane. I'm trying to live more here

Noah's Mom said...

I remember that post Anna, and thinking how very handsome Jack was in those photos (and ALL his photos)! And I remember too, just wanting to get past the age of 52, because that was the age that my dear Mother died. Life does go on, and we just hold on and weather the storms and enjoy the happy times. I always keep you and your family in my prayers. Happy Birthday to you, Anna!

Dina Ochs said...

Happy Birthday and I know it will always be bitter sweet, because you will always feel your life is not whole. Your posts give all of us who never ever suffered this look at life different. You have so much to look forward to with Margaret, and to not let her feel left out because of her brothers death. Someday when she is a mommy and has a little boy that she may name Jack, you will see that living was worth it. We have family member that lost a 2 year old to cancer who died on his Dads birthday suffer(especially the mom) for the past 15 years. The one child that was 4 at the time is hit the hardest, but the other 2 that came after have no memory of who their older brother was. But Margaret will. I hold you in my thoughts and prayers, you are amazing. Dina

anymommy said...

I don't know. But I love that you make me think about it. xo.

Melissa said...

Still trying to get by. Home improvement television is my past time. I try to make meaningful memories with my daughter, and think of you son whenever we are doing something, to determine whether he would have loved it, or been scared, or what.

The Roudebush Family said...

Anna,
I just finished 'Rare Bird' this afternoon, and found myself wanting to know even more about sweet Jack and Margaret. As I was picking my daughter up from gymnastics tonight, I looked over at the car next to me, and a young boy of about 12 had hair that reminded me of your description of Jack's floop :). I thought to myself, Jack's mom would sure like that hair cut. Many prayers to your family as you continue to navigate this new journey. Jennifer R.

Kristin said...

I will be 44 this year, and I'm more and more aware of the time flashing by. I appreciate it so much more. I love hearing Jack stories, and this one is no exception! I think it's wonderful that he found his sweet spot.

deeincollingo said...

Beautiful post. I have no idea what is next for me on the other side of Devaststion Day, the day my daughter died suddenly. I too feel like I have one foot on each side of the veil and pretty much exist in a new dimension. I remember in happier days driving with my family of 5 to Florida and stopping on I95 to take a pic of my kids with one foot in North Carolina and the other foot in South Carolina, never imagining what life had in store for me. I am still working on what is next and I, too, hope there will be peace and joy on the other side of this. It helps to see someone moving forward with a positive attitude. It shines a bit of light for me. Thank you.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Those are very powerful words that Jack spoke! I have lived 7 years past my mother who died at 56. It wasn't until I reached 60 that I really started to wonder about the rest of my life. Sadly I haven't done much about it yet so I better get busy. I spend my days still reading blogs, being on Facebook and Pinterest. I had a dear friend tell me one day "You are spending your days reading about other peoples lives instead of living your own!"