01/14/2013 05:20 EST | Updated 03/16/2013 05:12 EDT

Dispatches From Down East: Remember to Play in the Snow


It is a breathtakingly beautiful day. I send the Fearless Foursome outside for fresh air and exercise. What I wish I could write about this experience is this: everyone played in harmonious co-operation whilst enjoying some excellent winter recreational activity, all while tromping around in the sparkling snow.

What really happened is this: everyone proceeded to move from one activity to the next, like a bull in a china shop. And by the time we were ready to eat lunch, one pair of bindings was broken on my set of skis and a pair of antique snow shoes were broken in half. Add to this, complaints about the four remaining Tim Hortons doughnuts offered for mid-morning snack. You know the ones. The gross leftovers that nobody chose the two other times picks were made. Then, Oldest dragged his sorry self out the door only so as to sit on the porch swing, bribery being the motive for his appearance in the light of day. And lastly, this -- Littlest One says to me: "Does playing outside count as our chores?"

As if, sweetheart. As if.

And then, as if a light bulb has burnt out, and a cold wind has chilled the earth: the mood suddenly shifts. To ambulances, hospitals, life support, death. And one is left to process the fact that a child's shining light will no longer illuminate here on Earth.

Heaven's gains are Earth's losses.

And so we go from one moment to the next, those moments connected to more moments. Never quite knowing where the next step will lead. Will there be a next breath? Another hour to come and go, to see and do? Will there be another evening to "lay me down to sleep and pray the Lord my soul to keep?" Will there be another morning, another sunrise to awaken the soul? Will there be?

Oh, how very much we take for granted.

Backtracking, it was a bit of a rough start that morning referred to above. Things were a little crazy, what with all the skis and snowshoes breaking, the doughnuts not being just right, the Boy balking at the thoughts of going outside, the propositioning about chores and all. All that murky day-time stuff. And then there was the lunch-time fiasco. Ah! Lunchtime. A smorgasbord of delights to turn the stomach. Leftover pasta, leftover meat pie, leftover Chinese food and a few really, really burnt fries and lemony fish sticks that were really leftover, if you know what I mean.

The garbage can didn't even want those puppies.

All this, leaving me feeling pretty cranky by the time lunch was over. Growly about the food on the floor, growly about the food left on the plates, growly about the leftover food going back in the fridge. It was all classic Gard family stuff. Things that happen here pretty much every day, really. It was just that I was taking it all to heart, as if it all really mattered in the scheme of life.

After lunch, there was a rush out the door taking us to the local rink. The Boy was having a bit of a panic attack over not being on time for the pre-game "guy stuff" that goes on in the dressing room. So out we all hurried to the van and piled in like a bunch or sardines. I was still cranking because things remained a little crazy in the van, what with everyone still reeling over the after-effects of all those greasy leftovers. And so on a lark, I went back into the house, putting us in grave danger of being late for the GUY STUFF, and I grabbed some essentials: Ketchup chips, Double Stuf Oreo cookies and juice boxes to hold us all over.

And then we were off.

As there was a stretch of time pre-game, I decided the girls and I would go to the park behind the rink. I was feeling generous with my time. Actually, more like a wee bit smug with thoughts of what a great mom I must be. Taking time out of my busy day to play with my kids. We parked the van and then trudged through the deep snow to the park.

When our troupe got there, something magic came over me. I remembered what it felt like again to walk in the snow toward the monkey bars. What it felt like to thrill at reaching the second hoop, after many tries. What excitement it is to swing as high as you can go, and then jump. Landing on your own two feet. I remembered what it is to feel the winter sun on your face, the warmth of daylight illuminating the deepest corners of the soul, shedding light in dark places.

I remembered.

What a joy are winter picnics, especially when chips are involved. How precious are those photographs taken when all is well. When children are simultaneously at your feet and in your arms.

And as I sit here in reflection, I realize this. Each day, from start to finish is a gift. Every moment. From those moments of utter confusion and chaos that make up much of our days to those moments of peace and joy that are sandwiched in between. They are all a gift. A GIFT! And we must never, never take them for granted.

It is indeed a wild and precious life. Take nothing for granted and embrace each moment. Live each day with passion and joie de vivre. For one never knows what a day will bring. Nor can we know which day will be chosen, to be the very last.