Recently, I was asked to name ten books that have stuck with me for whatever reason. I was told not to think about it too much—just fire them off. It made me think. Books are interesting, but what about the moments in life that stick with us? Here are just a few that will never leave me.
1) My wedding day: My bridesmaids looked gorgeous in their beautiful dresses and carefully done hair. They gave me my last hug as a single woman and then waited for their cue to walk into the sanctuary. Suddenly, they were gone. It was like my childhood vaporized right in front of me. I started to shake. My dad came and took my arm, ready to walk me down the aisle. My shaking became increasingly violent—embarrassingly so. Dad stood just as straight and tall as you would expect an Army veteran to stand. It was time to go. He put his free hand over my trembling one. “Settle down,” he said. He held my hand the whole way to the altar. He was telling me I could do this. That I was ready. He was right.
2) The day my son came home from the hospital: My first child was born early, weighing only three pounds, 14 ounces. He spent 19 days in the NICU. The morning I was told my son would be discharged later that day, I went into the hospital cafeteria for my last meal there. A petite elderly lady approached me. I remember the sparkle in her eyes, her red lipstick, her wool coat and scarf. “Girl,” she said. “What are you so happy about?” I laughed. “My son is coming home today!” She threw her arms in the air and yelled, “Hallelujah! Praise God Almighty!” She beamed at me and walked away and I let loose my tears of joy.
3) The night I scared my mom: I was in college (but still living at home) and had gone to a dance with a friend. Afterward we went back to a room she was renting to hang out. We went up on the roof and laid down on blankets and watched the stars and talked and talked. We both fell asleep. I woke up in the middle of the night. It was probably about four in the morning. I knew my mom would be sitting at home, awake, and scared to death for my safety. She was. My mom had already lost a daughter, and I knew better than to put her through that kind of worry. Twenty-five years later, and with kids of my own, I still feel guilty for doing that to her.
4) My daughter’s first dance recital: She was three years old, and despite her Minnie Mouse dress and tap shoes, despite her “Mouse Ears” hat and curled hair, she looked scared to death. She didn’t want me to leave her backstage with the other dancers and the volunteer stage mom. She was sobbing when I finally tore myself away and took my seat. “I don’t think she’s going to do it,” I whispered to my husband, looking around at the sold-out audience and the huge stage. He squeezed my hand as I tried not to cry. All I could think was—she’s so little. This was a mistake. I’ve asked too much of her. The lights went down, and in the dark I could hear the click-clack of tap shoes on the stage as the wee ones were guided to their spots. The music started, the lights went on, and there was my little girl, dancing for all she was worth, smiling big, and remembering all the steps! I was so amazed at this little creature, who found it within herself to face her fears and smile at them.
Those are some of the first things that came to mind when I thought of the moments that stay. What are yours?