Living in the “Before”

There is tragedy ahead.

I know, right? Great way to start a blog!

But it’s true. Not to be fatalistic, but to be real. I have too many friends and family who have divided their lives into the “before” and “after.” Their memories are carved into the time before a tragic event, and life after a tragic event. The heartache is a timestamp, a slice in their story where everything changed.

My brother and his family remember life before their son Caleb died in a car accident at 17.

My other brother remembers life before his cancer diagnosis.

My mom remembers life before my dad fell from his boat and drowned at sea.

My sister-in-law remembers the time before her body began to fail her and she could walk, run, bike where she wanted.

An old neighbor remembers the time before he lost several family members when their car was washed away in a flash flood.

So much of life is divided by the “before” and “after” of a significant heartbreak.

I have had tragedy, but not up close and personal. Where someone I live with every day is no longer here – or where my body has given out – or where I’ve lost everything because of a natural disaster.

I live in the before.

And I don’t want to take it for granted.

I was fixing Laurentz’s hair the other night. I put in some pretty stylin’ twists in his kinky, preteen hair. He got up with some swag and a smile on his face. The emotion I felt as I looked at him was sheer delight. I love that boy! The same evening I cuddled Savannah in bed. She tucked her face close to mine as we did our kiss routine (butterfly, nose rub, cheek smash, forehead smash, actual kiss) and then laughed together. It was warm and pure – a good moment to drink in, not to miss.

I have those feelings often. Whether I’m watching Wilna play sports, holding Lovence’s hand, talking with one of my bigs on the phone or sitting at the table having coffee with my man. Even touching the soft papery thin skin of my beautiful 87-year-old mama. 

This moment, I think to myself, is good. Don’t miss it!

Now before you think my picture is a bit too rosy, you’re right. It is. These beautiful humans God placed in my world can also drive me bat crazy. And I them, I’m sure! 

But if I live in the before, if I remember that life is painful and that tragedy will come in some form or fashion, I won’t focus on the bat crazy, I’ll sit in the gratitude. 

I love these people. I love them so much it aches.

I don’t know how long it will be, but a before/after moment will come. I won’t live in fear of it, just in awareness of the reality. Then, maybe then, I won’t miss a single “before” moment. I’ll breathe in the smells, drink in the sights, enjoy and savor and remember.

Because they are good. So, so, good.

9 Responses

  1. I like it – live one day at a time and be grateful to God for everything – highs and lows. Blessings

  2. If one lives fully the before moments in life, then one has laid the foundation for facing the after moments of an upheaval. We feel the most regret in the after moments because we failed to remain current in the lives of those whom we love. Be current!

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