I spent most of the day Wednesday in bed. I wasn’t sick. Oh, no, that would have made sense. Instead, I was doing much gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands, sniveling about growing old and having no real reason to get up. What was the point? Sure, I have a family to look after, cooking to do, taxi service to run. But for some reason that day I was emotionally drained and full of despair. And nothing seemed to be going right: I dropped or fumbled everything I picked up; I was peeved at my grandson (and who hasn’t been peeved at a 15 year-old boy from time to time?); the pizza I had for lunch didn’t seem to taste all that good; and the weather was gray and overcast, which didn’t help any. My to-do list was long but mundane. I simply couldn’t muster the energy to do anything. I was totally wasting a day of my life, a life that gets precious when there is less of it to waste, as Bonnie Raitt sings in one of her songs.
When I was teaching I used to wish I had unlimited time to work outside, play with my cactus, do needlepoint, make scrapbooks, read just for fun. I retired in 2004 after 31 years of teaching. Now I have all the time I want to play with the cactus, do needlepoint, make scrapbooks, whatever. And guess what? It all seems rather pointless now. At least it did on Wednesday.

And then today I attended the funeral of Gloria Heredia, a member of our church who died after a two year battle against cancer. Heavens- I have wasted more days of my life than she spent actively engaged in battling the cancer. She was 45 years old. Forty-five. Way too young to die. Her daughters, Esther (a former student of mine) and Jennifer (a former student for a brief time before a schedule change) said their mother made the best of every day and never asked “Why [did this happen to] me?” She was one of these rare people who seem to be pleasant and always smiling , a feat I have yet to master.

So about this time I am thinking, shame on me; who am I to think I have no reason to get up in the morning? At least I will have the option to get up in the morning. And then the 23rd Psalm was read as one of her favorite Bible passages. My cup runneth over. Gloria knew her cup runneth over, even with the cancer. We fed family and friends, probably a hundred, after the funeral. She obviously touched many lives. I don’t have cancer, so my cup has room for even more stuff. I started making a mental list of all the family, friends, experiences, pets, material possessions, good health, everything I have been blessed with by the grace of God, and realized that my cup was absolutely overflowing with so much more than I deserve. That made all my whining the day before seem petty indeed.

The nurses commented that Gloria died with a smile and an air of contentment about her. Her faith and will to live a full life kept her strong to the end.

So, dear readers, I suspect we all need, from time to time, to look at how our cups do indeed runneth over and make up our minds not to waste even one more glorious day that we will be given. And smile.

Godspeed, Gloria. Thanks for your life; thanks for the lesson.