Two things happened today that have left me feeling...something I can't quite name yet.
The first one was horrible: one of the girls who had been in Haley's choir last school year was killed in a motorcycle accident. The boy driving the motorcycle, who was her best friend's brother, was also killed. I didn't know either one of them very well, but I do have pictures of the girl, from choir performances. It was one of those surreal moments when you think no, that's just a story, that can't be true because it is too awful to imagine. I wondered: what were the last words the parents of those kids said to them? Were they loving or warning or maybe they were flung out in anger over something that really didn't matter, and how horrible would that be? It made me think the old thought: you just never know when your time is up. We walk around thinking we have plenty of time: to apologize, to make amends, to heal all the wounds, but also to find our way and to do the things we hope for, but every single one of us could run out of time tomorrow. Tonight, even. This death of two friends-of-my-daughter made me feel that I haven't done enough. There is so much I haven't said and experienced and lived. There is so much living left to do.
The second thing was serendipitous. This morning I was cleaning up the kitchen and I glanced down at my feet. The bunion on my left foot is starting to get worse, and my big toe on that foot has begun pushing against the second toe. But I so don't want to have my bunions fixed. I know it sounds unimaginably strange, but I can't imagine me being me without being able to curl my toes. I do it when I am thinking, or reading, or writing, or being creative. (I'm doing it right now, in fact.) Bunion surgery would mean I could no longer curl my toes and then how would I think?
So I was cleaning my kitchen, thinking about bunions and toe curling and Roman Burke. He is a man who used to live in our neighborhood; his wife and I were good friends and he and Kendell were good friends. A perfect match! But then they moved away for medical school and we became Christmas-card friends. He finished his schooling and became...a podiatrist! I wish I could get Roman's opinion I thought. Not because I don't trust my own podiatrist but because my own podiatrist doesn't know me like an old friend does. Even though our families haven't seen each other in years.
Then, later this evening when I was doing the dishes again, there was a knock on our front door, and you'll never guess who was standing there: Roman Burke. And his three sons, who are off to soccer camp at BYU next week, so he decided to just stop by. They all came in and we hung out in our front room together for a couple of hours, talking about the old days and our experiences since they moved away twelve years ago.
And it both made me joyful and want to weep, seeing an old friend. Because I thought about how much he and his wife have accomplished, the moving and the seeing and the doing, the learning and the chance to do something big. And how little I have changed in those twelve years—how little I have done. Twelve years later I still have the same heartaches and the same little house and a front room that still needs to be painted. I still have the same damn furniture. I had the same argument with my husband yesterday that I had fourteen years ago when the Burkes moved into our neighborhood, which really had nothing to do with anger or disciplining the kids or a scratch on the car, but with the ever-present need everyone has to just be loved for who they are.
That need is still there, too.
So now it's 11:22 p.m. on this strange day, and I still don't really have a word for what I'm feeling. Perhaps "haunted" is the best one: by a dead girl I once took a picture of. By that hopeful (and thin and unwrinkled) person I used to be, when the Burkes still lived around the corner. When I was her, I imagined many things happening to me, but statis? Just staying put? Nothing changing or really getting any better? That wasn't ever one of them. So I am also haunted, I suppose, by the ghost of what could have been. By regrets. Because if I died tomorrow, it wouldn't have been enough. I still have so many changes to make, in my relationships and my beliefs and my abilities and my prospects. I'm not done.
I don't want my life to have been a waste, a waste of time while I breathed in and out, sitting in the same house. I want change to happen. I want adventures. I want to feel like I have made a difference.
I want to feel like I am living my life instead of waiting for it to happen.