My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister's bureau and lifted
out a tissue-wrapped package. “This”, he said, "is not a slip. This is lin
gerie." He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip.
It was exquisite, silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The
price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached.
"Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least 8 or 9 yea
rs ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion.
Well, I guess this is the occasion.
He took the slip from me and put it on the bed, with the other clothes w
e were taking to the mortician. His hands lingered on the soft material for
a moment, then he slammed the drawer shut and turned to me. "Don't ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you' re alive is a special occas
I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed
when I helped him and my niece attend to all the sad chores that follow an u
nexpected death. I thought about them on the plane returning to California f
rom the midwestern town where my sister's family lives. I thought about all
the things that she hadn't seen or heard or done. I thought about the things
that she had done without realizing that they were special.
I'm still thinking about his words, and they've changed the weeds in the
garden. I'm spending more time with my family and friends and less time in
committee meetings. Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experienc
e to savour, not endure. I'm trying to recognize these moment now and cheris
I'm not “saving" anything; we use our good china and crystal for every
special. Event such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first
camellia blossom… I wear my good blazer to the market if I fee1 like it. M
y theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28. 49 for one small bag
of groceries without wincing. I'm not saving my good perfume for special par
ties; clerks in hardware stores and tellers in banks have noses that functio
n as well as my party going friends.
"Someday" and “one of these days" are losing their grip on my vocabular
y. If it's worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do i
t now. I' m not sure what my sister would've done had she know that she woul
dn't be here for the tomorrow we all take for granted.
I think she would have called family members and a few close friends. Sh
e might have called a few former friends to apologize, and mend fences for p
ast squabbles. I like to think she would have gone out for a Chinese dinner,
her favorite food. I'm guessing. I'll never know.
It's those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew
that my hours were limited. Angry because I put off seeing good friends whom
I was going to get in touch with someday. Angry because I hadn't written ce
rtain letters that I intended to write one of these days. Angry and sorry th
at I didn't tell my husband and daughter often enough how much I truly love
I'm trying very hard not to put off hold back, or save anything that wou
ld add laughter and luster to our lives. And every morning when I open my ey
es, I tell myself that every day, every minute, every breath truly, is... a
gift from God.