At my office, there are very few people with young children, hence, when 5:00 rolls around the place is still humming with activity. I typically try to come in by 8 and leave around 5 or come in at 730 and leave around 430 or so. My office mates tend to come in later and leave later. This doesn't generally work for me because my kids want to eat dinner by 6 and go to bed at 730. If I leave at exactly 5, get home at 530, then I can get dinner on the table by 6 and we can spend an hour together before they go to bed. If I stay later, I am taking time from the kids so I'd rather log in later from home after they are in bed if I need to. Still, I always feel as if there is a contest to see who can sit at their desk the latest in the evenings at the office. I am forever getting these reminder calls from UberGeek at 5:05 inquiring as to whether I have departed, then 5:10, then 5:15. He usually leaves around 4:30 from work as his office is a ghost town by 5. UberGeek is always on me to just come on home to be with them. Still, I feel weird heading off down the hallway when everyone else sits fixed in front of their terminals.
Sometimes God speaks to you, but in my case, apparently God has to repeat the message, more than once. When I was in my early twenties my stepmother, Lynn, died of cancer at the age of 44. At the time, both of her biological children, my brother and sister, were under the age of six. Before they were born, Lynn's work was everything to her, she was published in a number of academic journals, loved teaching, lecturing and traveling. I still remember the assorted lab frogs living on the back porch during the summer. Once my brother and sister were born, work was no longer everything to Lynnie, and she simply would not commit her time in a way she once had. She was still a very passionate person about nursing, about biology and about research, she simply could not give it twenty four hours a day as she had for nearly fifteen years.
In hindsight, it was a good thing Lynnie was so dedicated to her family, she certainly didn't know she would be given so little time with them. I remember not long after her terminal cancer diagnosis she said to me, "Kristie, this will be the thing that kills me, but I want the treatment to give me more time. I can't die yet, the kids are just too little." They were too little; when I think about it now, it crushes my heart to know what that did to her, having to leave them without a choice. The treatment did buy her more time, she was given a prognosis of a few months and she lived about a year.
I am 35 years old, nine years younger than my stepmother when she died. My children are the age that her oldest child was when she died. Although I often miss her, and I ache for my brother and sister, I also realize that I learned one of the most beautiful lessons in my life from her. Today, I was editing a website at work and I came across this quote from Stephen Covey, "Most people struggle with life balance simply because they haven't really paid the price to decide what is really important to them." I was around to watch that price be paid. As I read that quote, I started reflecting; I have been given a similar message in several different ways, from several sources lately, so perhaps my ear should be perking up.
A couple weekends ago, I was in church and the focus of the sermon was Psalm 39:4, "Show me, O Lord, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life." The pastor continued to talk about the power of that reading, that our days are numbered, that we only get one chance, one chance to be a child, one chance to be a teen, one chance to be a young adult, there is no going back. "You have made my days but a hands breadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life, is but a breath." I could feel emotion well up inside me as I squeezed UberGeek's hand as he sat next to me in the pew. OK God, I'm listening; be patient with me, sometimes I'm a slow learner.