I read somewhere that a moment is defined as a significant period of time lasting approximately 90 seconds. Life is defined by these significant periods of time, these moments. The moment you know you love someone more than you've ever loved anyone else...the moment you look into a new baby's eyes for the first time but you feel like you've seen them before...the moment you realize for sure what you're destined to do in this life...the moment the sun hits the horizon in the most spectacular sunset imaginable...the moment your life changes and it will never, ever be the same...moments.
Recently I visited with some old friends. The conversation turned to the day Matt died and one of my friends mentioned that looking back on it, the day must be a blur. You'd think...but it isn't. It was one year ago today and I remember every tiny detail.
Matt began traveling regularly (and by "regularly" I mean he was out of town more than he was in town) when I was pregnant with our first baby. I always felt down in my gut that something would happen to him on one of these trips. I remember several times he would come home late at night after hours or days of driving and flying and I would breathe a sigh of relief and think to myself "not this trip." We'd have long talks about my feelings and every time he would tell me that nothing was going to happen. "How do you know?" I would ask. "I just know," he would answer. And I believed him...mostly.
The moment I saw the Highway Patrol officer standing on my doorstep I just knew. It sounds cliche, right? Because that's exactly how it happens in the movies--hours after the loved one should have returned home there's a knock at the door. It's a Highway Patrol officer. He introduces himself before he asks to come in and sit down. He says something along the lines of "I'm sorry to have to tell you that there's been an accident..." I remember with excruciating clarity exactly how I felt at that moment. I've only felt that way once before...
When I was in high school I went to Mexico as part of a student exchange. An insanely high fever and some other issues that I don't blog about landed me in a hospital there. I remember the commotion going on, a little boy screaming his head off behind the curtain next to me and then out of nowhere someone stabbed my shoulder with an enormous needle and pumped into my body what felt like acid. It burned through every vein in my body like wildfire in a forest. When the burning stopped, the fever was gone too and I was left with the most bizarre feeling of emptiness...
After the officer left I called my parents. I could hardly catch my breath and when my dad answered the phone all I could get out was "Matt's dead." As soon as those words passed my lips I knew I had said them before...in another time, in another place, in another lifetime perhaps...but those exact words in that exact way.
I've said many times over the last year, "We don't get to choose our trials." But what if we do? What if there is a time in our premortal existence...a moment...when we are gathered around a huge pile of trials and challenges and obstacles and we point to part of the pile and we say "Give that to me. I can take it."
What if Matt and I agreed that we'd rather be together for just a brief time on this earth than not be together at all? What if I looked ahead at my life at all I would have gained and learned and experienced and I decided it was worth the heartache and pain? What if I chose this?