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  Whispering Winds
Whispering Winds


(orig. published in the L.A.Times)
A Story to Live By  ~ by Ann Wells

  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. 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 - I'll never know.

  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...    

So, remember to
Dance like nobody's watching, and
Love like it's never going to hurt.

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