94: Here and Now

94: Here and Now

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and the Unexplainable

Here and Now

Life is available only in the present moment. If you abandon the present moment, you cannot live the moments of your daily life deeply.

~Thich Nhat Hanh

My granddaughter, Kaitlyn, opened a cupboard door and reached for a white porcelain mug. “Do you want sugar or milk?”

“Thanks, honey, but this is just fine.” My flavored coffee required only hot water. Super swift. Just like my life. I rushed through most mornings in a hectic routine. Get up, get dressed, get to work. Rush home, do chores, go to bed. Get up and do it all again.

Now here I stood in my granddaughter’s kitchen. Little Aubree, just two, played in the other room. This was a visit for me to relax and enjoy time with loved ones. But I couldn’t turn off my brain. After spending all day with Aubree and Kaitlyn, my mind automatically reviewed a to-do list of everything that needed to be done when I returned home. I crawled into bed at 10:30 in the upstairs guest room.

I woke up with a sudden start. After I took in where I was, thin tendrils of memory converged into a vision. There was a dream, and it had seemed so real. I sat in bed, closed my eyes, and let the wispy thoughts merge in my mind.

The dream begins with me in my dad’s house. It’s a nondescript ranch home with two smallish bedrooms, a large kitchen, and a big living room. I’m in Dad’s closet, looking for one of his favorite sweaters. There’s a door at the back of the closet — a door I’ve never seen before. I turn the metal knob and find a long string cord just inside the doorframe. When I pull on it, a bare bulb illuminates a set of wooden stairs, very dusty and old.

Stepping gingerly on the stairs, which creak but hold strong, I journey down. What I find is a hallway with a maze of corridors going in many different directions leading to many rooms.

There’s one filled with posters of actors and actresses covering the walls, standing up in frames and taped to the ceiling. In another are all varieties of coins, big, heavy, round silver dollars and silver certificates. In yet another are baby clothes, tiny little outfits in all colors of the rainbow.

In yet another room are turntables and record players along with stacks of vinyl 33s, 45s and 78s, as well as console televisions — big boxy things with the numbers worn off on the knobs from hand-flipping the channels. And still another room is filled with wooden carved objects: spinning wheels, birdhouses, and wooden toys like a duck that quacks when you pull him on a string.

Each room is crammed full. I squeeze past one table, then another, touching some items, afraid to touch others for fear they will disintegrate before my eyes. After a while, I delicately pick up and cradle two objects. One is a carved mahogany dresser bowl like the one Dad deposits his coins into from his pockets after work. The other is a porcelain mug that declares “World’s Best Dad” on the front.

I enter another room to my right, this one filled with service station memorabilia like a big, round, white sign with a red flying horse and the words “Mobilgas SPECIAL” underneath. There are old stand-up pumps with round lighted signs on top, and cans of Quaker State and Pennzoil.

I happen to look toward the doorway. Seated in a chair is a man. I look once, then again.

“Dad, is that you?”

“Yes. Come and sit down here by me,” he says.

As I sink into the chair next to his, I can’t take my eyes off him.

He tells me that when he started to collect things, people were surprised and wondered why he’d collect items that were brand new and had no value.

Dad looks me straight in the eyes. “You don’t realize how valuable something is until much later.”

I glance at the coffee mug and wooden bowl in my hands. When I look up, he’s gone. Carrying my two treasures, I slowly go back upstairs, walk through the closet, and into the kitchen.

“Miss,” a woman says, holding a clipboard in her hand. “You can’t keep those.”

“Why not?” I clutch my treasures to my chest.

“They’re part of the estate and must be sold at auction.”

I look around. The counters brim with Dad’s kitchen items, tagged and ready for sale. Then I remember: Dad passed away eighteen months ago.

That’s when I woke up. I burrowed under the covers and let my thoughts take me back. It felt so real, like I could touch my dad’s face, the rough stubble on his chin, see his eyes crinkle when his face lit up in a wide smile. He said something about not realizing how valuable something is until much later. I sighed. Didn’t I rush through each day? Often with a long to-do list of chores and errands? Wasn’t I already worrying about work when I still had three wonderful days left with my loved ones?

I shrugged off the blanket and almost jumped out of bed. Instead of thinking about all the things I had to do when I got back home, what if I were present, really present, in the here and now? I crept down the creaking stairs and into Aubree’s room. She stood in her crib, arms outstretched, bright eyes shining.

My dad would have loved Aubree. And he would have cherished every moment he could be with her. I would do the same.

What’s most valuable is what I have right now, right here in front of me. It was a lesson from my dad, my angel in heaven. One I would never forget.

~B.J. Taylor

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners