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Tue Jul 06, 2010 5:33 pm

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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, handmade 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 8 or 9 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 have done had
she known that she wouldn't be here for the tomorrow we all take for
granted.

It's those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew
that my hours were limited. Angry because 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 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 it is special. Every day, every
minute, every breath truly is...a gift from God.

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