Summer’s coming to an end.
It’s so crazy to think how quickly life can change.
I received a phone call recently from my husband with some terrible news. His sweet, wonderful uncle had died of a massive heart attack while out on a morning run.
I was shocked. And worried. And scared. And heartbroken. I kept thinking about the family, how amazing they were, how strong they were, how good they were and, of course, why it happened.
Two of his seven children are getting married this month.
My two little boys saw me crying and asked what was wrong as I hung up the phone. I gathered them in my arms and told them, in very simple terms. My boys have never really dealt with death, except when their cousin’s dog died a few months ago.
“Like Bentley?” my oldest asked.
“Yes, like Bentley,” I said.
We attended the funeral for this good father, and it was heartbreakingly beautiful. My husband left right after to fly out of the country for school, leaving me alone with our three boys for five days. I hate being left alone, and especially this time when I felt like I had so many different emotions swirling around inside without my sweetheart to hold my hand and talk it all out with.
And how must his aunt feel?
As I was browsing around on Facebook late one night (OK, extremely early one morning), I saw a link to the latest Time magazine article titled “The Childfree Life.” The article discusses our modern society’s childless trend and how some polls reveal couples are actually happier without kids.
The following day was particularly hard, not only because Brad was gone, but because I was a little distracted and distant. My boys could sense that and, of course, decided to get my attention the hard way. I began to think about that article and wonder could couples without children — who purposefully choose not to have children in order to further careers, travel or have more financial freedom — really be happier?
Feeling guilty, I packed my kids in the car and ran to the grocery store to stock the shelves. On a whim, I wandered into the electronic section and over to the DVDs. E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web” was on sale for around 5 bucks, so I grabbed it.
“We’re having movie night after dinner!” I declared.
It’s been at least 20 years since I’ve seen that show, but those sweet, simple animations and cheery little songs opened a floodgate of memories. I looked over at my oldest boy, wide-eyed and smiling at the little pig and his spider friend as they sang about “Mother Earth and Father Time” and how wonderful life is, however long or short ours may be.
As Charlotte the spider is facing the end of hers, she presents her little egg sac to Wilbur, her “magnum opus” as she calls it.
“What’s that?” Wilbur asks, ever innocent and inquisitive.
“My greatest work,” she replies.
And just like that, all the troubling thoughts that were weighing on my mind vanished.
That is what life’s all about! Family. Period. Everything in this life comes down to that. Would I rather have more money or more little smiling faces to wipe? More time to be by myself, or more time to be with the ones I made? More time to go out, or more time to go out and make memories with those I love more than any activity or place or vacation?
It was one of those simple, poignant moments that I know I’ll always remember.
As I crawled into bed that night, alone, I thought of my husband’s aunt who was also lying down to sleep by herself. But her situation is a little more permanent than mine. I brushed some tears away, and said a prayer for her. As silly as it may seem to be so touched by the classic children’s tale of “Charlotte’s Web,” the lessons and truths from that story were just what I needed.
I hope my husband’s aunt doesn’t have to endure her winter for too long.
The autumn days grow short and cold; It's Christmas time again
Then snows of winter slowly melt, the day grows short,
And then ...
I hope she sees the spring.
How very special are we
For just a moment to be
Part of life's eternal rhyme
How very special are we
To have on our family tree
Mother Earth and Father Time
He turns the seasons around
And so she changes her gown
But they always look in their prime
They go on dancing their dance
Of everlasting romance
Mother Earth and Father Time
— From “Charlotte’s Web”
Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News.
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