Sharon Randall: Looking for signs of life
Somedays, when I’m feeling low, wishing the world were a better place than it seems at times, I tell myself that I’m alive and the best is yet to come.
I say that not because I have breath and a heartbeat, though both help. But life is a lot more than what goes on inside of us.
Look around you. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel? Who do you love? What do you know to be true?
Signs of life are all around us, like billboards on a freeway pointing the way when we feel lost. Here are a few of mine:
Some mornings, my husband brings me coffee, creamy and sweet, just the way I like it. I take a sip and taste both the bittersweetness of the brew and the steadfastness of the love that has placed it in my hands.
Through a window, I watch purple fronds of salvia wave like banners in the wind. A hawk glides on the currents, looking for something to kill. A deer hops the fence on the patio. I clap my hands. It hops back out. In the distance, a neighbor’s dog barks like it means business.
I spend an hour reading emails and messages on Facebook and my website. Family and friends send their love. Readers (friends I’ve yet to meet) write to confirm what life and work have taught me, that we are all more alike than different, and we are all in this same leaky boat together.
I call my brother and listen, for the umpteenth time, to his recording on his voicemail. He’ll call back when he’s good and ready. Then I call my sister and talk for half an hour about everything and nothing. We always talk about the same things, my brother and sister and I, but we’re the oldest survivors of our immediate family, and for me, it’s a sign of life just to hear their voices.
Clicking off the call, I notice a new video of my 14-month-old grandson. He’s playing peek-a-boo for the camera. Thanks to videos, I’ve watched him taking his first steps, saying his first words and belly-laughing at his mama and daddy. My mother would’ve have lived 10 years longer to see videos like that.
In the afternoon, I take a drive to visit my kids and grandkids nearby. Nobody’s home at Henry’s house. But at the next stop, Wiley and Eleanor run out to hug me. I’m wearing a mask, but they know I’m grinning like a mule eating briars.
Driving home, I listen to a CD my husband recorded with his music buddies. It includes a song he wrote for me. I like all the songs (even the ones about other women), but I like my song best. I wish you could hear it.
For dinner, I make a salad of fresh produce that’s delivered each week to our door: Gem lettuce, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, spring onions, basil and a handful of strawberries. I add some leftover chicken and toss it with a simple dressing. It’s two of my favorite things, easy and good. Just the taste of it reminds me I’m alive.
After dinner, my husband and I go outside for a “sunset ritual,” watching the sun bed down in a blanket of fog on the coast.
Most people like to see the sun set. They’ll flock to a beach to snap a quick selfie as the sun sinks into the ocean. But here’s a little known secret. Sometimes the sun saves the best for last, painting heaven’s doorstep with the most spectacular display, long after most folks have given up and gone home. I’ve seen that happen countless times. I’ll bet you’ve seen it, too.
Years ago, on one of the darkest days of my life, I decided sunsets are God’s way of telling us, “You’re alive. Be thankful. Don’t despair. The best is yet to come.”
The sun rises every morning and the old world becomes new. But the best shows up time after time when we least expect it. It’s worth waking up to watch for it.
What are your signs of life?
– Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley CA 93924, or on her website: www.sharonrandall.com.