I met an elderly woman today on my morning walk. She struggled to pull out her recycling bin, so I jumped in to help. Her hair was pure white, wispy, and a bit messy but still elegant. She was dressed in sweats and slippers. In two years of doing the exact same route for my morning walk, I had never seen anyone stir in the big house that loomed behind her. “Do you live here?” I asked. She sheepishly said “Yes. It’s just me since my Ernie passed away.”
“I’m so sorry. How long were you both married?”
“Oh!” she said with a chuckle. Looking at the blue morning sky, leaving me for a moment to a distance memory, she answered “fifty six wonderful years.”
Without thinking, I said “I never thought anyone lived here.”
Her shoulders dropped, and she looked behind her at the large house. Her eyes rested on the run down “For Sale” sign that has been out front for years. “I think the house hasn’t sold because I’m not ready to let go yet. Those walls are filled with memories you can’t imagine. Ernie is with me everyday, even though he’s been gone for several years.”
And then she looked into my eyes, fighting back tears, and said…
“But I’ve decided most recently that I’m going to choose living again.” She paused and looked at her slippers. “No one ever tells you how painful that choice will be when your best friend is gone. But I need to choose to live, not just exist.”
My immature, young heart sometimes thinks that the need to choose life is only made a handful of times. This morning I’m reminded we are asked to choose life throughout our whole life. There is a big difference between existing and living. Choosing to live takes courage.
I took the above photo when we visited the Tulip Festival with a macro lens. I wanted an image that held the story of unfolding–unfolding a mystery, a wonder, an unknown, a clenched fist, a new beginning, a choice.
Existing or living. Which one do you choose today?
DSLR Settings for those of you who love them: 100 ISO, Aperture was f/4.0, Shutter Speed 1/800th of a second, shot with SONY Macro 100mm Lens