What would be your favorite moment in your life?
Mulling over this question, of that one perfect moment, the one we wish we could beautifully freeze forever, is a gift in itself. We'd think our response would be instant, like a finger snap, but deciding on our choice and then sending it sailing out of our soul from its place of honor, well, that's two different things. To publicly declare a moment as your lifetime favorite is to commit — to place all other moments in your life — below the one selected.
Not so easy to decide now, is it?
This season in my life has me taking care of my mother, who is in hospice. When we're together, I take her to our nature preserve, and I'm grateful that I'm strong enough to get her in my car and that the wheelchair easily collapses and fits into my van. We make the half-hour trip, and I push her in her chair along the path that takes us to the edge of the lake's bluff. The wind is good there. We'll stop at the lookout point, neither of us saying much, enjoying this time in our lives together when we're not hurrying. She'll lean back into her green chair, and listen to me as I begin to tell her of her grandchildren, about the oldest who is a life guard for the summer, about the middlest getting his temporary license, and the youngest loving soccer.
"Like his grandfather," she'll say.
"Yes, I have to remember to tell him that," I say, promising myself to tell my son more about his grandfather.
Lately, a lot more lately, as we sit stretching over the fence that overlooks the water, she's been sharing stories from her life and I'm learning things I didn't know about her. She tells me of the Percheron horses her father had and how massive and jet-black her favorite one was. This past week, the anxiousness of not knowing the count of our days here together — though I've known her my entire life — gnaws at me.
What day would my mother choose to relive, if given the chance at the end of her life? Would she do anything differently? Does a favorite moment, I wondered, have to be perfect? Can it also have regret?
Cycling through our Rolodex of experiences and the emotion they come with, what would any of us choose as the time in our lives that we'd want to relive again? Would we change the outcome? Do we choose a memory of laughing so hard our sides ached, or loving so fiercely our hearts almost burst, or do we relish the reward of success from hard work? Would our pick involve drama? Or would a quiet epiphany be big enough?
Would it be the days of childhood in Colombia that my mother would ask for again? To feel the heat of a country on the equator? She once told me that South America was the only place in the world where you would close your eyes and still see the bright orange of the sun behind your eyelids. Would she ask to once more have the cool ocean breeze flow across the face of a young girl?
"Mama," I ask, during a quiet moment as I watch her looking across the water. "Mama, if you could have one special moment from your life to relive again, which one would it be?"
"It would be all of them," she answers me without waiting a minute. "I would want to relive all of them."