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My Forever Moment

I'm not sure if I believe in heaven. I'm not a particularly, traditionally religious person so I don't buy into the pearly gates, yet life, this earth, this universe, amazes me. Too many unexplained, serendipitous events happen for us to just turn into worm food after we die.

I started having death panic attacks shortly after Andy and I got married. They come on at the most random times, most often when I am driving. I'll be making a mental to-do checklist and -bam! My brain goes blank and I realize, "I'm going to die. I'm going to die!" My can't breathe very well and I feel light headed. I may even start to cry, overwhelmed because I'm so scared and so sad. And then, the moment is over. Just like that, I'm back to life as I know it, whether it's focusing on the road ahead of me or adding to my to-do list.

I mentioned these attacks to a friend and she told me I should be thankful to be at a point in my life that I'm not busy worrying about attaining happiness but instead am able to worry about all the great things I have to lose. I hadn't thought about it that way, but she was right. Horrible things are happening to people everyday, pushing them to a point where they can't see why life is worth living. Some people feel like they have nothing to lose. So I let these attacks wash over me because, in a weird way, they remind me that my life is really good. Too often I get caught up in all of the negative details, forgetting that there's no need to sweat the small stuff.

We all find ways to deal with the inevitable end of life, whether we seek comfort in the concept of heaven, multiple lives or simply returning to the earth. Maybe like the movies, I like to imagine my afterlife as a combination of every wonderful moment of my life or a never ending scene of my most favorite moment of life. A former colleague of mine, now retired, once told me a story about his hopes for afterlife. He told me when he died he'd be at the back door of his childhood kitchen, leading out to the neighborhood playground. His siblings and his buddies would all be there. He'd be 10 years old again. He'd run out to meet them and they'd play until the sun set.

Today the girls and I went to the playground behind the school. We were all alone. The sun was shining but the wind blew gently,rustling the trees. Caroline and Charlotte ran gleefully around, sliding and swinging, circling around one another, giggling. Caroline and I pushed Charlotte in the baby swing, her hair blowing like crazy from the movement of the swing and the wind. She laughed, we laughed. They jumped into my lap. Charlotte pressed her little nose against mine and kissed me. Caroline placed her head in the crook of my neck and whispered, "I love you."

I'm always tired. Always waiting for bedtime or a few moments to myself. Always stressed out. But today I just wanted to make time stop or slow down. I wanted to bottle up that moment, put it in a snow globe and keep it next to my heart forever. Then of course, like everything else, the moment passed. A few hours later they were wrestling, screaming about me getting them sippy cups and throwing Cheerios on the freshly cleaned floor.

But that moment was still with me. It is now, long after they have gone to bed. It will be with me tomorrow and in my dreams. It will be with me forever, whatever that may mean.


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