In childhood, friends on the opposing kickball team would shout “do over” as they scrambled to recover from a a bad pitch or an error while fielding the large rubber ball. Even when my own children were growing up, I sometimes invoked a “do over.” This phrase came to mean Mom needed a time out – a chance to regroup – to apologize – to set things right in a moment of losing her cool. These do overs eventually became two-way streets, with my kids being able to ask for them as well following a meltdown.
Do-overs worked for me and my children because they were saved for special occasions. They were not overused. In a way, they allowed us to say we were sorry and to make amends for what had just taken place – usually a hurtful statement or some yelling.
The longer my feet kiss this earth, I realize asking for a do over wasn’t the best thing I could have taught my children. After all, when in life do we really get a do over? We cannot make up for the past – even the most recent of events. And yet, they have allowed us to restart and regroup.
Over the last 15 months, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on life – thinking carefully about choices I made – words I spent – people with whom I have pulled close – people I have let go – words I hope I get to say – adventures I get to take – people I get to meet – feelings I plan on experiencing. The opportunity to do over is not full proof, but perhaps it does us a chance to acknowledge our feelings.
Since December 2019, my daughter’s brain cancer has made her journey quite turbulent. Watching my child settle into facing her own mortality, helping her navigate the unknown moements that await her, living life as fully present as we can despite the sadness we feel has gifted me in so many ways. Would I trade it all in a heartbeat? Without a doubt, I would give her cancer back to the universe, but I know that is not possible. Instead, Elizabeth and I work together every day, whether we are physically together or we are connected by FaceTime, to stand in the light of the moment. Cancer doesn’t give us a chance to call “do over!”
What I can do, however, is enjoy each day the sun rises. I can be present when Elizabeth FaceTimes me. I can listen to the growing sound of the birds returning to the blossoming trees. I can listen carefully when my son he calls to chat. I can giggle at the snoring of my black lab sitting next to me. With the opportunity to stay present, I won’t need do-overs.