A recent conversation with my children has me reflecting on how I am using my time. On the eve of what would have been my daughter’s 7th birthday, I was talking to my 3 young children. We always talk about their Baby Big Sister as if she could walk through our front door at any moment. We talked about her birthday, how old she would have been, and one of my twin boys (4) asked lots of questions. These tiny minds were trying to wrap their heads around things that I had struggled to comprehend as an adult. And while I’m not one hundred percent sure I answered all of their questions, I sure tried to respond the only way I knew how.
The question that seemed to come up over and over was, “Why did she have to go to heaven?” He asked many times, and each time my answer varied a bit.
“I don’t really know,” or “Jesus needed Emma with him,” and “It was just Emma’s time to go to heaven.”
It was with that last answer that my son seemed to be content. He paused for the first time during our talk and went quiet for a few moments.
He then, in all seriousness asked, “Did Alexa set a timer?”
In the moment of somber conversation, I laughed.
Around our house, Alexa might as well be a member of the family, her name gets said almost as many times as “momma” is said. In our house, I set timers for just about everything we do. Clean up time, screen time, and time out. It hadn’t really occurred to me how much we use Alexa until my son applied the timer to my daughter’s life. At that moment, he understood. Emma’s timer was up. His thinking made me laugh in an emotional moment. He broke the ice that I was desperately trying to do myself.
I try not to think of the real reason my daughter’s life was cut far too soon, my son did teach me something in that moment of vulnerability. The truth is, we all have timers ticking away. Even though I’ve learned first-hand that time is precious, it’s easy to forget in the hustle and bustle of keeping up with the Joneses. I have no idea how much time is left on my clock or my children’s. Am I using my time wisely? Am I living my best life while I can? Am I giving my children the best verison on myself?
Again, I honestly don’t know the answers. I want to say that yes, I’m doing all of those things while doing ALL OF THE THINGS as well. I want my time to be well spent. I want at the end of each day for my children to go to sleep knowing they are loved and safe. I don’t want to have regrets, should haves, could haves, or wish I would haves.
We all seem to live as if we have forever. We think that the worries that weigh us down now will be important later. We put off the vacations with family because we all assume we have another year. We don’t tell the ones we love how much we love them enough because we assume there’s always tomorrow. We fear, we worry. We don’t reach high enough or far enough because we’re worried we’ll fall and fail, forgetting that that opportunity may not present itself again before our time is up.
We let trivial things steal our joy, the most precious thing we have: time. Not just time, moments. Moments that one day will only be memories time can’t give us back.