I wished my best friend a happy birthday today by phone. Instead of celebrating at Easter with a cake or by going out to dinner one evening this week, as we would typically do, we must wait and celebrate once we can be together. I miss her like crazy and can’t wait to be able to go on one of our dinner dates. And this time, Debbie, I’m treating!
Easter was certainly different this year as my husband, children, and mother-in-law ate dinner with my parents and my brothers and their families via Zoom. We watched Easter Sunday Mass “together” online in the morning and then ate dinner “together” that evening. Instead of baskets full of candy and Dollar Tree trinkets, my girls were greeted that morning with a single chocolate bunny on each of their brunch plates.
As I think about the celebrations that are being cancelled or postponed this spring, I realize how lucky I am, and I’d like to offer a small piece of advice to everyone.
Don’t wait. When this is over, plan your celebrations, attend your parties, let others know how much you love and appreciate them. Every moment counts, and there is always a reason to celebrate.
When I was about fifteen, our family planned a surprise 45th anniversary party for my grandparents. While others asked, “Why now? Why not wait until the 50th?” our family continued planning and threw a great party that brought together family and friends and delighted my grandparents. Three years later, my grandfather, with little warning, succumbed to lung cancer. The 50th anniversary never came.
On Mother’s Day, 2005, our entire extended family gathered to celebrate our mothers and grandmother. Less than two weeks later, my grandmother suffered a stroke that eventually led to her being called home to be with Granddad. Since then, we’ve tried not to let a Mother’s Day or Father’s Day go by when we don’t gather together as a family.
In 2015, we gave my in-laws a surprise 50th anniversary party. It was a joyous occasion, and we all assumed we would have many more years together as they were both in good health. Less than two years later, Ken’s Dad, the girl’s Poppy, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of dementia and was called home in just six weeks. My biggest regret was not telling this wonderful man sooner how much he meant to me, how much I loved him.
This past March, before we knew how bad things might get, when the only guideline was to wash hands, my Aunt Debbie, my mother, and my daughter, Rebecca, threw me a surprise 50th birthday party. Six days later, my girls were sent home from college, and life as we knew it came to an abrupt halt. How special it was to be able to celebrate with family and friends from near and far. I am so lucky, so blessed, and so grateful to my family or planning this wondrous event for me and to my friends for making the time and effort to attend. I hope they all know how much I love them. I know I’ve tried to tell them as often as possible.
I’ve said before that saying, “I love you” was not an ordinary thing in my family. We all knew that we loved each other, but we very rarely said so. For me, that changed when we lost Ken’s dad. I started telling everyone I love them–my husband (more often than before), my girls, my parents, my brothers, my sister-in-law, mother-in-law, and dearest friends. I don’t want anyone to doubt my love for them. Last week, when in a hurry to hang up and fix dinner, I hastily told my dad goodbye and started to disconnect our call, but then I heard him ask, “No I love you?” A tear formed in my eye as I said the words I had become accustom to saying, “I love you, Dad.” I cannot put into words what it meant to me to know that my father appreciated my words and wanted to hear them.
So here’s my advice: when this is over, celebrate with those you love. If, God willing, restrictions are eased by Mother’s Day, go see your mothers, grandmothers, and daughters. On Father’s Day, go visit your fathers, grandfathers, and sons. Find reasons to get together. Don’t let any milestone pass you by. Don’t go a day without telling your loved ones what they mean to you.
I’ve heard such sad stories lately about those who could not say goodbye, could not say I love you, could not be present for their loved ones when the hour came for someone to be called home. Even if you can’t be with the ones you love right now, don’t pass up the chance to let them know you care. Call them. Text them. Send them a card.
And when this is all over, find reasons to celebrate. Don’t wait for the perfect day or the right year. Plan that party, get married, return to the Church, go on that trip. Never allow the opportunity to go by to see those you love and let them know how you feel.
Someday, this, too, shall pass. Embrace the gift we’ve all been given to reexamine our lives and our priorities, and vow to make every minute of every day count. Seek those chances to celebrate family, loved ones, milestones, or being a child of God. Look for ways to show your love and gratitude.
On second thought, why wait? Those my age and older may remember the old AT&T Commercials from the 1970s that urged everyone to “reach out and touch someone.” FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, and many other modes of communication are available now that we never dreamed of back then. Call or FaceTime someone today. Right now. Let the know you care. The world needs that more than ever.
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book of Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019.
Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy is available as a complete set for your Kindle and is also available on audio!
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019).