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Special Occasions

My brother-in-law opened
the bottom drawer of my
sister's bureau and lifted
out a tissue-wrapped
package. "This," he said
"is not a slip. This
is lingerie."

He discarded the tissue
and handed me the slip.
It was exquisite, silk,
made and trimmed with
a cobweb of lace. The
price tag with an
astronomical figure
on it was still attached.

"Jan bought this the
first time we went to
New York, at least eight
or nine years ago. She
never wore it. She
was saving it for a
special occasion.
Well, I guess this is
the occasion."

He took the slip from me
and put it on the
bed with the other
clothes we were taking
to the mortician. His
hands lingered on the
soft material for a
moment, then he slammed
the drawer shut and
turned to me.
"Don't ever save anything
for a special occasion.
Every day you're alive
is a special occasion."

I remembered those words
through the funeral and
the days that followed
when I helped him and my
niece attend to all the
sad chores that follow
an unexpected death.

I thought about them on
the plane returning to
California from the
Midwestern town where my
sister's family lives.
I thought about all the
things that she hadn't
seen or heard or done.
I thought about the
things that she had done
without realizing that
they were special.

I'm still thinking about
his words, and they've
changed my life. I'm
reading more and dusting
less. I'm sitting on the
deck and admiring the
view without fussing
about the weeds in the
garden. I'm spending more
time with my family and
friends and less time in
committee meetings.

Whenever possible, life
should be a pattern of
experience to savor,
not endure. I'm
trying to recognize these
moments now and cherish
them. I'm not saving"
anything; we use our good
china and crystal for
every special event such
as losing a pound, getting
the sink unstopped, the
first camellia blossom.

I wear my good blazer to
the market if I feel like
it. My theory is if I
look prosperous, I can
shell out $28.49 for one
small bag of groceries
without wincing.

I'm not saving my good
perfume for special parties;
clerks in hardware stores
and tellers in banks have
noses that function as
well as my party going friends.

"Someday" and "one of these
days" are losing their grip
on my vocabulary.
If it's worth seeing or
hearing or doing, I want to
see and hear and do it now.

I'm not sure what my sister
would've done had she known
that she wouldn't be here
for the tomorrow we all
take for granted. I think
she would have called family
members and a few close
friends. She might have
called a few former friends
to apologize and mend fences
for past squabbles. I like
to think she would have gone
out for a Chinese dinner, her
favorite food. I'm guessing.

It's those little things
left undone that would
make me angry. Angry 'cause
I put off seeing good
friends whom I was going to
get in touch with someday.
Angry because I hadn't
written certain letters that
I intended to write one of
these days. Angry and sorry
that I didn't tell my
husband and daughter and son
often enough how much I truly
love them.

I'm trying very
hard not to put off, hold
back, or save anything that
would add laughter and luster
to our lives. And every
morning when I open my eyes,
I tell myself that every day,
every minute, every breath
truly is...a gift from God.


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