I’ve heard this phrase used in various settings to show that every minute of life is unique. Every opportunity comes once, and there never is another quite like it. And some things must be done while it is day because the night is coming when you won’t be able to do it anymore.
I think along these lines every time I am together with family, as I am now. My parents are with me at my home in Florida and I am very aware of the limited time for the special project I’m working on with my mom. I am finding out who she is in different ways than I have used before. I am interviewing her. I am writing her memories of being a child, a teen, a young married woman. I am realizing that just because I have known her all my life, doesn’t mean that I know her. She had a life before me that figured heavily in the formation of who she is now. As I hear of those years, those events, I see a story that is more compelling and inspiring than I knew. I became a part of that story and I feel a strong connection to it.
As mom and I sit and talk there are times when the details of the story aren’t clear any more and we wish for someone else who might have been there. My mom has a brother who came down to visit us one day. He was closer to her in age than her other siblings and he knew many of her stories, having lived them with her. His perspective was different and added extra color and depth to the family narrative. Another of her brothers passed away a week ago and I can’t help but wonder what he would have added. Did anyone ask him to tell about his life? Did he leave any of those details for others to know?
Our experiences make us who we are. There are reasons we think the way we do and react to life in certain characteristic ways. Many times I have had friends or acquaintances who I considered to be difficult people, until I heard their story. I’ve known some very remarkable people and wondered where they got their courage or their ambition, until I heard their story. Knowing the story is so helpful in loving and having compassion on others. The stories need to be told if we are to become peacemakers, helpers of each other.
Do you have a living parent that you think you know? Or a husband/wife? Or even a child? As we look at life’s experiences through our own mental window, it is possible to entirely miss what is happening in someone else’s inner world. Don’t be too sure you know them. Don’t think it doesn’t matter. Don’t be slow to ask. Do it while it is day.