Photo credit to Judy and Billy, my two best friends whose Snap Stories I stole…

“Life’s uncertain, eat dessert first.”

These are the words from a decorative wall hanging at a diner my father used to take me to as a child. At the time, these words were nothing more to me than a way to convince Pa to let me have sugary cereal or more syrup on my pancakes. Now, these words have come to mean so much more to me.

I love food, and this has led me to think of life as a kind of meal.

The simple things that are seemingly unimportant, those interactions with strangers, the familiar cars you pass every morning on your way to work, the smile someone gives you when you hold the door, the adrenaline that comes from being 20 minutes late for a date—these are all the appetizers of life. They can keep you going, and they’re good, but they make you want more.

The big things in life, the important things, your job, your obligations, your hobbies, your home, your favorite stores—these things are the entrée. They are the biggest part of your life. You can skip the appetizer, but you cannot skip the main part of the meal. That’s just plain wrong.

My favorite part of a meal—and of life—is dessert. It’s the sweetest part. It’s the most memorable part of a meal. The greatest dessert life has to offer is the little moments with those you love the most. For me, these are family gatherings, unplanned picnics with my best friends, a yearly movie night to watch the new Star Wars with my townie friend from college, the unspoken words passed between two people who know each other just with a second of eye contact, and so many more. These things may seem distant and pointless to others, but to me, these moments are what make life worth it. I could live without them, but I’m so glad I don’t have to—just like I don’t have to live without that chocolate lava cake after my meal.

The thing is, I’ve caught myself pushing these moments shared with the ones I love the most to the back burner. I’ve been saving dessert for last. The thing is, maybe I’ll choke while eating my meal. Maybe the rest of life will suck me in so far that I lose myself before I ever get to have another moment with my friends or family. The thing is, I might get so wrapped up in life that I forget to appreciate the sweetest parts of my life.

The thing is, our time here is short. I will never know when my last “dessert” moment will be. I will never know when I might share my last laugh with any of my loved ones. The thing is that at any moment I could lose the ability to have another special moment with the people I love the most.

I realize that I am seemingly spiraling into some form of existential crisis, but some strange part of me believes this to be a good thing. I’m going to take a wild guess that this is pretty normal for people to encounter at some stage in their lives. It is a time when you realize your own mortality and mortality of your favorite people. I’m finally realizing all of this almost two full months after a friend of mine passed, and we never got to “hang out again sometime” as we had planned.

There are accidents, mistakes, and fights. People leave and never come back. There is always a last embrace, a last kiss goodnight, and a last laugh. I just hope I can make each of these a priority.

“Life’s uncertain, eat dessert first”

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