I had a vision. A powerful vision. The vision took place in the past. It was fall of 1997. I am at the tail end of my life as a drug addict and alcoholic. I am smoking crack, snorting heroin and drinking tequila. All of a sudden, my vision goes blurry and my heart seizes up as if in a vice grip. I fall to the floor convulsing madly. Moments before I perish, God appears and says, “I’m sorry, my son, but you have come to the end of this life. But before you go, I offer you a gift. I am going to grant you a two hour reprieve. In those two hours, you can experience any vision of the future you have ever had for yourself. Whatever you ask for, that is where I will place you for 120 minutes. Where would you like that to be?”
Knowing that the choices are endless, including, though not limited to, receiving the Academy Award for Best Actor, playing shortstop for The Yankees, speaking to my fellow Americans from a podium as the President of The United States or making passionate love to the most gorgeous, exotic woman I can imagine- it would seem that the decision before me would have been a challenging one. But it would not have been. As the vision pulsated through my conscious mind, I knew exactly what I would have requested from God. This is what that request would have been:
I awaken early in the morning, sober. I have no inclination to procure or use alcohol or drugs. The desire to be inebriated has long since passed and is not an even momentary thought as I awaken to meet the day. Laying next to me is the woman of my dreams; my bride; my soulmate. A woman who understands me completely. A woman to whom I have revealed my whole self. A woman who loves me as much for what is wrong with me as she does for what is right with me. A woman who I adore so deeply that I often sense that my heart will explode in its inability to house all of the love. We kiss and silently enjoy each other’s presence as we ready ourselves for the day. Within 30 minutes, she drives off to work and I climb the stairs to alert my children that it is time to wake up for school. They are little. And they are both girls. They have been made to feel safe in the world and they are wild for their daddy.
I pullback the covers of the younger one and softly rub her back, watching her twist and stretch her little body as she comes to. I pull off her nightgown and pull on her dress. She is capable of doing this herself but likes when I do it for her; and I revel in the opportunity. I pull her blankets back up, kiss her cheek and tell her she can sleep a while longer. She smiles and falls back into slumber. I cross to the room of the older one who is already awake, holding our kitty and staring at the ceiling. I climb in next to her and hold her as we chat about her oncoming school day. I walk downstairs and prepare their breakfast and load their lunchboxes.
Once they are up and ready, we stroll out the door for the half-mile walk to their school. The day is perfect. 75 and sunny. Not a cloud in the sky. Wind softly blowing as the birds tweet their beautiful melodies. As we traverse the charming suburb, I have both their backpacks over my shoulder, watching for oncoming cars as we walk and talk and laugh. I begin singing some of their favorite songs coaxing them to chime in and sing along with me. Our family chorus lasts until we come to the crossing guard who safely escorts us to the foot of the school grounds. As we pass her, I say, “Ok, girls, say ‘thank you, crossing guard.'” They do so in unison and she smiles at the acknowledgment. The school is a lovely elementary institution, and as we walk toward all the people waiting outside for the day to start, I am greeted by multiple teachers who know me from the many school activities in which I participate. Kids from every class level come running, yelling, “Mr. Mark!” their mornings made a little brighter simply by the prospect of seeing me. To each of them, I say something amusing generating a giggle and many of them take the opportunity to give me a warm hug. I kiss both my babies softly wishing them a wonderful day of learning and adventure. As they each join their individual collective of friends and classmates, I turn to walk back. Just before I turn the corner, I take one last glance back at the two beautiful souls that I have been granted the blessing of nurturing.
That’s what I would have asked God for. I know this for a fact. It is the only thing I ever truly wanted.
And that just happens to be exactly what this morning looked like.
Further, this wonderful morning is not a two hour fantasy reprieve granted to me moments before my demise.
This is what almost every morning of my life looks like.
I am aware that sometimes my lack of drive; my minimal ambition; the absence of desire for more; can read to those about me as apathy.
It’s simply the awareness that everything I have ever craved in this world, I already have.
Thank you God.