Take a look at these two photos. If you don’t think that time can make a difference in our lives, these pictures might just convince you. Just look at my little niece in 2017. Look how small she looks, how sick, how incredibly vulnerable. I can barely look at it without crying. But then I look at the picture on the right, and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for time. And for doctors and nurses and social workers. For incredible healing powers. Just look at that spunky, healthy little girl on the right! My God, we are blessed for sure. Blessed beyond measure.
When I was younger, my dad loved to make me think beyond my years. He loved to ask me philosophical questions such as what did I want to be remembered for when I died? Or what kind of animal did I wish I could be? Or the ever perplexing one…what will your life look like in five years? Answering that five year question when you’re young, isn’t too hard. Usually you’re sitting on the cusp of some big life milestone like graduating high school or college, starting a new job or heading into married life. You can imagine that in five years you will be in some great job, married to the perfect person with a baby on the way. You envision a cute little starter house with plenty of money to pay the bills. You don’t look ahead and see the challenges, the potential failures, the possible single lonely, unemployed life you might be leading. You see only the good stuff and you look towards those future five years with anxious anticipation.
But as you get older, you realize that’s not the way life usually works. Five years of time can be filled with intense and incredible changes. Some can be so powerful and beautiful and others beyond devastating. But very few of them look anything like what you thought. As an example, here’s what happened to me in the past five years. My family’s business was struggling to turn a profit, then slowly started becoming financially stable, then became very profitable, then went out of business due to COVID-19. I lost both of my grandparents and my mother-in-law. One daughter got married, had her second child and moved into her own house. Another daughter graduated from college, moved out of state, moved back, started graduate school and got engaged. My son is almost done with high school, my house has been refinanced twice and my sweet, adorable cat took her last breath. I experienced unemployment for the first time in my life and then started a new career in a totally different field. And my beloved niece was diagnosed, fought and beat cancer. I can tell you that if I was sitting back imagining a five year plan, very few of those things would have made the list.
Time makes a difference in so many things. When I feel down about the amount of time it is taking to raise the funds we need to build Lily’s Pad and the beautiful designs just waiting to be brought to life by our volunteers and contractors, I remind myself of the power of time. If I start the clock in August of 2019, when my family incorporated and began in earnest to build Lily’s Pad, I can actually see how far we have come. We’ve got a space, donated rent free (Thank you, Phillips family). We have an architect designing our space, pro-bono (Thank you, Architekton). We have an engineer working up the mechanical and plumbing specs, at no charge. (Thank you, Applied Engineering). We have raised a quarter of the cost of our buildout, in the middle of a pandemic, through the kindness of our community and simple grass roots style fundraising. We’ve come a long, long way.
I’m reminding all of you, as I remind myself, of the power of time and the need to be patient. Life right now is not what we want it to be. In my household, we are waiting on some COVID test results. They will determine if I will see my parents, my brother and his family and my daughter and grandkids. I’ve just been told that my middle daughter was exposed to COVID and her fiancé is feeling sick. I for sure won’t be able to see them for the holiday. There’s a good chance that all of our Christmas celebrations will be cancelled or postponed. I might spend the next five days in my pajamas, drinking some wine and eating too many cookies. But as my eyes start to tear up about the missing moments and lost memories, I’ll remind myself that this too, shall pass with time.
Look back at the two pictures above of my niece. There’s a world of memories and an amazing story to be told between the passage of time that separates them. Take a moment and reflect on the time that has passed for you and the changes it has brought. I bet that you will find both good and bad things to remember. You will probably recall trials and tribulations. I hope there are some victories lurking in those memories too. But like me, you will probably feel the power of time, softening the edges and moving you along. Your celebrations this year might not be full of all of the people you long to be with, but your life and your memory still is. Cherish those that you can be with. Think lovingly of those you cannot. Be patient. Time can make such a powerful difference.
I look forward to the day I can see the incredible people supporting Lily’s Pad in person again. I want to wrap all of you in a big hug and thank you for believing in me and my family. For being patient as time ticks by and we keep on trudging towards our goal. For sharing the vision and for being a part of the solution for these kids. Until that great day, I will send my hugs from afar. Please know that I, along with all of the Lily’s Pad team, wish you and your families an incredible holiday. Fill it up with joy and merriness and take just a moment to remind yourself of the power of time. Let it heal your heart,
–Written by Dawn Garza
Director of Operations at Lily’s Pad and Disillusioned Maker of Five Year Plans