Saving for a rainy day …

The fish need feeding… their food cannisters need refilling too. The bird feeder needs completely restocking…and it is freezing outside. Not only is it cold enough to make a snowman shiver, it is raining… the kind of rain that falls as stinging darts making the presence of each drop sharp and immediate. I shiver, watching the blood withdraw from my fingertips, feeling them shrink and stiffen with the cold and I wrestle with the frozen metal of the lock. Raindrops trickle across my scalp, slithering down my neck. It is not a day to be outdoors… but the fish and the birds need to be fed, regardless of my misery.

Opening the shed, I squeeze past my son’s wheelchair to reach the feed. I remember, just for a moment, coming onto the hospital ward one day and seeing the longing on his face as he watched the raindrops on the window pane. I’d give anything to be out there, he had said. To feel the rain on my face again. Back then, we had no idea if he would ever be able to do so…at least, not without help.

What if, I wondered, this were the last time I ever felt the rain? I know, all too acutely, how life can change between one moment and the next. How normality, freedom…even life itself… can be snuffed out without warning. Such thoughts may seem morbid to some, but I have found that an awareness of the finite nature of the life we know only enhances our ability to appreciate its beauty. Yet, here I was complaining.

I asked myself the question once again. What if this were to be the last time I ever felt the cold of winter or the rain on my skin? Would I really want to remember it through a veil of misery? Or would I want to remember the clarity of the moment? The sparkle of rain on the first, burgeoning leaves of a nascent spring… the ever-expanding circles drawn by the raindrops on the silver surface of the pond… the aliveness of my skin, tingling beneath the touch of winter… the freshness of the rain-soaked garden and the smell of wet earth…

Some ‘last times’ we are aware of… we know they will be the last. We see them coming and they make an indelible impression on memory. I will never forget my last, tear-blurred glimpse of the Sacré-Cœur as we left Paris, thirty years ago. I didn’t know then that it would be the very last time… I still do not yet know if it was, for that matter… but it was the end of a chapter in my life and the beginning of a new story. I remember the final hug shared with a friend and his final words to me, hours before he died, as clearly as I recall the last time I closed the door on the family home.

Sometimes we only realise it was a ‘last time’ once the moment has passed… and those memories too entrench themselves, kept alive by emotion. But most ‘last times’ only become clear in retrospect… we will not know until it is too late to give them our attention and store them up in memory.

As we grow older, any farewell, no matter how temporary, takes on a new layer of meaning; as the years pass, the chances that some of these farewells will be ‘last times’ cannot help but increase. I would not wish to waste such moments in sentimentality, regret or in the imagining of some dire future… I want to enjoy them, storing them up in a treasure house of memory where life, love and laughter are the true riches of living.

There is a reason we are here, in this life, in these bodies and with these senses. Our lives are short… seconds, minutes and hours tick by, heading towards an unknown point, for few know the span of their days. For any one of us the world can change at any moment… yet we live our lives taking so much for granted or, as I was doing, railing against the downside instead of carrying away with us all the moment has to offer.

Living in England, the chances are that I will see and feel more rain than I could possibly wish for… but I do not know what the future holds. Would I really wish to be stuck behind glass watching the rain fall beyond my reach… and knowing I had wasted my ‘last time’ grumbling?

I fed the fish and the birds, smiled at the Indian airline label still attached to my son’s wheelchair… and went out to enjoy the rain.

All images in this post were taken in India by my son…where he felt the rain.

51 thoughts on “Saving for a rainy day …

  1. A truly lovely post, Sue. Just back inside from a bitterly cold day but with the warmth of the memory of today’s family occasion surrounded by love an laughter. Something I don’t think will be a last time … except within the ever changing diversity of the family. And not forgetting the wonderful glint of the bright sun on the sea. It’s been a difficult month since David (husband’s).operation but each day is one more towards recovery and an awareness of all we treasure.

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  2. I should try not to hate tomorrow’s upcoming major snow storm before it even arrives. Somehow, I have a gut feeling if I never saw another snowstorms or felt black ice under my feet, i would not be deprived. Perhaps I’m finally at that point when a woman of the north wishes she could spend at least part of the winter somewhere warmer. I think I’ve absorbed enough weather to not suffer the lack of it.

    Weather is so INTENSE in this latitude and longitude. As my days grow longer, I feel the cold and the dampness more and I yearn to remember the weather, not live in it.

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    1. We are supposed to be expecting snow too. I was hopeful earlier, when a few flakes fell… but that was all we got. We seldom do intense here in the south… apart from rain. We do that well 😉

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  3. I once read that we complain because we are not in control. The weather is something we can’t control, so we complain about it. We need to give up that need to control and enjoy the moment. Why do we learn these things so late in life, if at all? My younger brother would have turned 62 today had he not died in an industrial accident at age 19, 43 years ago. I made him a nice meal and we went for a long walk after with good conversation, the evening before the accident. It is a good memory, one I cherish.

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    1. I doubt if we are in control of half as much as we like to think…and as none of us know what may happen from one moment to the next, it would make sense to enjoy the moments we do have. As you did with your brother, Darlene. Then we have moments to cherish.

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