Years ago, when she was only three, and right in the middle of her "I'll only wear dresses" phase (the one I happily complied with, stocking her closet with a wide assortment of perfectly spinny dresses), I took a photo of Haley next to my yellow daylilies, just because they were blooming for the first time, and so pretty, and because she noticed them, and because she was pretty, too:
(forgive the pre-digital, photo-of-a-photo-on-a-scrapbook-layout)
Now, every time I see my yellow daylilies, I am reminded of that photo and, in turn, of that day. Just an average summer afternoon when my oldest child was three, and my second was only a baby taking a nap, or maybe he was crawling in the shade of the apple tree, and probably I turned around and took a picture of him after the one of Haley. I was still a student then, and Kendell still had his job that he loved, and we both had this certain idea of how our lives would be that has proven to be nothing like reality. In theory I understood how fast time would go, but in reality, not so much. I thought I would always have more days like that one, everyone small and happy. I imagined myself finishing my degree, being a stay-at-home mom for years and years and years, having more sons, more daughters.
I didn't realize just how hard I should have savored that particular, average day. I didn't know that while, yes, sometimes you get to repeat similar experiences---you get to be pregnant again, you get to hold another of your own newborn babies, you get to watch them grow and laugh and become who they are---you don't ever get to relive anything. I didn't realize then how much every moment counts. Especially the particular, average ones.
Daylilies do just what their name implies: each flower lives for just one day. Before they start blooming, the plant will be covered in tightly-furled blossoms, and then one day, one or two will open. The next day, those first blooms will have wilted, but new ones bloom to take their place. Today, as I walked up the driveway after my run, I noticed that the last yellow daylily had bloomed. That particular shade of yellow---rich, with an underlying hint of orange---reminded me of that day I took the photo of Haley in her second-favorite chambray dress which, in turn, reminded me of this day: particular, average. And I remembered: savor today, because no other day will be exactly like this one.
I'm glad the flowers reminded me. I try to savor things, anyway, but today seemed even more savor-able just because of the reminder. I will never have today back: Haley in her unpredictable, sometimes-prickly sometimes-happy moods; Jake on his last day of going without any technology for an entire week; Nathan's sunburned cheeks contrasting with his blue eyes and white hair; Kaleb perpetually happy to be included with his older siblings and still, perpetually, wearing pajamas. Myself, too: tanner than I've been since I was a teenager, ready to run Saturday's half marathon, mother of four wonderful children. Wiser and more heartsore than the person I was when the yellow daylilies bloomed for the first time, but more able to appreciate things, too. The kids all stayed outside with me while I worked in the garden. Jake captured a grasshopper, and Kaleb spotted a baby garden snake under the hibiscus bush. They laughed together, showing me things; they gathered around the patio table to eat watermelon; they tried to get the snake to eat the grasshopper but stopped when Kaleb started crying. I dug out ivy, marveled over the zinnias I planted where the lilac bush used to be, and tried to hold it all in my heart, tried to breathe and live and simply be herein this day when the last yellow daylily blossomed.