The Day Before the Day He Died

“What would you do if you knew you’d die tomorrow?” I’ve thought about this question a lot these last eight months. The day before Rob died, the kids and I met him for lunch at a local pizza shop in our old neighborhood. Even though we were on vacation, Rob was working that day, and he’d been up early to start the day on East Coast time. We chatted about the day’s activities, shared lunch and said goodbye. He headed back to work at Starbucks, and we drove to the county fair where we’d meet him after work was done. It felt like a regular day, made even more ordinary by our surroundings in our old home town.

That evening, Rob met us at the fair, and we walked around eating scones and exploring exhibits. We sat and watched a third-rate magic show and wandered through the goat and cow barns. The last photograph I have of our family together was taken that night by a friend who caught us sitting, sans oldest daughter, watching children compete in mini-tractor pulls. 

I look back and remember every moment of that ordinary day. A day of work. A day spent with friends. No cues or clues of what tomorrow would bring. I think of Rob and me sitting side by side on those bleachers, cheering on our boys as they pedaled hard to drag their tractors’ weights across the finish line. I wonder what would have been different had we known. I wonder if we would have changed anything at all. I look at that picture and see Rob holding our daughter tenderly on his lap. I see my arm around my boy. I see our third born sandwiched between us and hear our eldest happily chatting with her friends in the dog barn behind us. And I think, no, I wouldn’t have it any other way. We were together, happy. I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I’d only have begged for more time.

My children sometimes ask me, “If a genie granted you three wishes, what would you want?” My answer is the same. Time and time and more time. Time for ordinary life. For family and friends and love and laughter. Time to make amends. Time to say goodbye. I don’t know if I’ll die tomorrow, if God will grant me this one great desire I seek. All I know is that I have this day, and I intend to use it well.

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