Carpe Diem

There are two things on my mind today, and in some strange way they are related.  The first is that I found out this weekend that a guy I knew in high school died last Friday.  He was 34, had been married for 10 months, and just died in his sleep.  No warning.  No hint that his last words or goodnight kiss or the evening before would be his last.  Just poof.  Gone.

I haven’t seen this guy since high school…haven’t really even thought about him since high school, if you want to know the honest truth.  But he was good friends with my friend M, who I do hang out with now and then.  So M has been talking about it and telling me about it, and it blows my mind that a perfectly healthy guy my age just suddenly left this world.

It makes me think about how I’m living my life, for sure.  Am I living each day to the fullest?  Am I saying the things that need to be said?  Am I living my life in such a way that if I were to die tomorrow, I could die with no regrets?  Yeah, I’m thinking on all those things.  But also, I’m looking at the people in my life and seeing that there are a lot of people in this world that aren’t looking at the big picture.

My friend, A, for instance, recently found text messages on her husband’s phone from a woman.  “A friend”, according to him.  The messages were flirty and often in code and completely inappropriate.  But he didn’t like being called out on them.  He didn’t like that A was mad about his relationship with this girl, whatever it may be.  So he left.  He moved out, and now A is taking care of their three children on her own.  She’s drinking more than she should.  She has started smoking again.  She’s taking advantage of her freedom by flirting with other guys and entertaining the thought of finding a new guy.  She’s visiting lawyers and bad-mouthing her husband and talking divorce.  Mostly, she’s in defensive mode, because her husband L is being such a jerk. 

And I look at L and I can tell that he’s acting on this little feeling of unhappiness.  This restless feeling everyone has now and then of being in a marriage for a while and having the responsibility of three kids and wondering what it would be like to be a little more free again.  Most of us brush it away, whine a little about how rough life is, and get on with our lives the best we can.  But L…he’s checking it out.  He’s walking away, just like the eight years and three kids mean nothing to him.  He’s out having fun and acting single.  And his children are paying the price.  His wife is paying the price.  His family is paying the price.  All because he’s not looking at the big picture.

L claims to have no “emotional interest” in A at this point.  He just doesn’t care about her or their marriage anymore.  He’s done.  Overnight, practically, he has decided that he wants out.  He probably thinks that he is seizing the moment, and doing what he needs to do to be happy.  But I think I’m wise enough these days to realize that in truth, there are two ways to go about that.  He can leave his family behind to pursue “new” happiness…the excitement of a new girl and new possibilities and a new life.  Or, he can man up and do what he needs to do to make his current life happier.  Make more effort.  Be a better husband.  Be a better dad.  Care.  In the end, which would he regret?  If he died tomorrow, would he regret staying?  Or leaving?

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying there’s never a place for divorce.  I have many friends that are divorced and it was the best thing for them…they are much happier now.  What I’m saying is that people too often don’t look at the big picture.  Too often they take the “easy” way out.  They don’t try hard enough.  I think that if you are going to take steps toward divorce, especially if you have children, you need to make every possible effort to save that marriage first.  You need to exhaust every minute possibility.  You need to fight your butt off before throwing in the towel.

Somehow this has turned into a post about divorce.  That wasn’t my intention.  But it’s a valid example of how easily many people today throw away things in their life without much consideration.  We take the “easy” way out…we are selfish and do whatever we want to do to fulfill our fleeting desires…we toss aside people and pursue our own agendas.  If I could talk to the high school friend who just passed away, what would he say his regrets were?  I think it would be the people he hurt.  The things he didn’t say to those he loved.  The things he didn’t do for them that he should have.

But for us, it’s not too late.  Now’s our chance.




  1. Burgh Baby said,

    June 9, 2008 at 10:21 am

    It’s hard to see the big picture when you’re living life through the details. Great post, and great reminder to enjoy the moments from afar from time-to-time.

  2. SWC said,

    June 9, 2008 at 11:13 am

    First off, we will have to catch up. Who died? What the hell?

    Secondly, this is a great post. As a child from a broken family I can vouch for the fact that those kids are going to suffer. Right now the best thing that A can do is focus on her kids and keeping things as stable as possible for them. Not flirting with guys, etc. I understand that she has wounds from this but that is just a bad place to go. Anyway, you are so right about the bigger picture. As a former divorcee, I learned along the way that life is never really as exciting as you can conjure up in your head. It’s so fleeting. Fortunately I didn’t have to learn that lesson and screw up any kids along the way. Excitement comes and goes. Sometimes I think my husband is the biggest pain in the ass on earth. But, he’s my pain in the ass. And if he wasn’t my pain in the ass, I would have a different one. (For the record, I realize that I am also a huge pain in the ass) And you know, our relationship was really exciting at first. Now, we are lucky if we stay up every night long enough after the baby goes to bed to actually have a conversation.

    UGH! I just want to shake people like L and show them a crystal ball so they can see how their lives might end up if they continue down the path. My mom did the same thing and I honestly don’t believe she has ever found true happiness. I know my dad never recovered from the pain and heartache he went through. And my brother and I were put through a lot of crap in the process. SO not worth it! And you never know when your number is up, so we should all strive to leave the right kind of legacy and not a legacy of regret.

    Well, I’m glad you have a good head on your shoulders, girl! XO Email me.

  3. Alison said,

    June 9, 2008 at 11:57 am

    I agree that there is a time an a place for divorce but I that too many people use it as an easy way out. Things aren’t working, divorce. I see that especially among my generation. Or my age group, I should say. I’m in my late 20s and I have at least 3 friends who were married less than 3 years and are now divorced! I’m sorry I find that ridiculous!

    I’m sorry about your friend. Sudden death, any death, makes us reconsider and think. It’s sad that it takes that to make us stop but it’s better than nothing.

  4. June 9, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Wow! This sounds exactly like a situation I’m watching with one of my very best friends from way back. He just up and left his marriage for seemingly no reason (unless you count a younger woman) too. I feel exactly the same way you do about it all.

    Have you told your friend how you feel about it? I haven’t really and I’m not sure if I should or how to go about it.

    Isn’t it sad that so many people miss the “big picture”? I know I get lost in my own nonsense sometimes too, but I hope it never gets to that level where I’m selfishly hurting those I love 😦 I mean really, what will we all regret when we’re at the end of life? I’m pretty sure it wont be that we didn’t get enough cheap thrills 😛

  5. June 9, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Wow. Truly a great post. My husband has an ex-wife. When we dated, which was really on the heels of their break-up (and NO I was most certainly not even close to being the reason. We didn’t date until they had filed).

    One of the things that I grilled him about was his effort at his marriage. Weird. But I wanted to know how seriously he took marriage. He was the ONLY one taking it seriously. She cheated on him with his business partner (and someone she used to babysit for…… she’s awful).

    And I couldn’t agree with you more. People give up waaaaaaaaaay too easily and are pretty self centered. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

    Although, lucky for my and my husband, it is.

  6. Latte Mommy said,

    June 9, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    I’m sorry to hear about what your friends are going through. I agree with you that it’s important to look at the big picture, but boy, that’s hard to do sometimes, isn’t it?

    Two people that I went to medical school with died in the last year and a half, one suddenly and unexpectedly in her sleep and the other from a brain tumour. It reminded me that although it was a hard decision to leave my job to be a SAHM, I would never regret this time with my children for a moment. Sometimes you just don’t know how much time you have left. Both these women put their career first, one never married, the other never had children… I’m betting if they’d had it to do over again, they might have done something differently.

  7. Jaina said,

    June 9, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about your friend from high school. I’m also sorry to hear about your other friend and her broken home. I have to admit, I suddenly started thinking about the Jane Austen Book Club when I read about them. Thank you for the reminder to look at the big picture. While I do agree with Burgh Baby that it is sometimes difficult to see beyond the details you’re living, but I think you’re right that we are all capable of seeing the big picture, we just have to remember to do so.

  8. lunanik said,

    June 9, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Great post girl!

    I think when it comes to that restless period of longterm relationships and marriage that people fail to realize that whomever they are escaping their situation to be with is not perfect. The grass always seems greener on the other side, then suddenly you reaize you left your problems with one person, to start having new problems with someone else!

    Sorry to hear about your high school aquaintance that passed. And so young, too. That is always something that causes much thought provoking subjects isn’t it.

  9. David said,

    June 10, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    This post is the kind of post that I wait for. The post that comes along once in a rare while. A writer that knows how valuable and short life is, and decides to make the day. Seize it, love it, embellish it, leave a legacy.
    Thank you for this, I will read and reread this many times and hope that it is read by all of your followers, all of your readers.
    Thanks for doing this.
    It is important!
    SWC is so right” “This is a great post”!

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