Better three hours too soon than a minute too late. – William Shakespeare
Every Monday morning I drop off my dry cleaning and every Thursday morning I pick it up.
The dry cleaners is conveniently located on my way to work and behind a Starbucks. So, twice a week I treat myself to a Venti Bold before taking care of the errand.
Leaving the car running, I grab the laundry bag and dart inside. The attendant greets with a smile and we chat about the Royals or the need for the Kansas City Chiefs to win a football game. She takes the bag and then reassures me it will be ready on Thursday.
This has been the routine for the past two years. And during this time, I never took the time to ask her name.
Last Monday morning the routine was interrupted.
The attendant wasn’t there. In her place was the owner. After asking about her, I was told she had been diagnosed with cancer and wouldn’t return. The owner mentioned her name while telling me the news.
I felt regret pulse through me.
No more smiling about the Royals or commiserating about the Chiefs. Those brief early-morning moments were gone forever and I never took the time to ask her name.
Life’s lessons can present themselves in the most painful ways sometimes. But the value of these lessons can be found when we take the time to learn from them.
Like most, I’ve experienced loss many times.
With each experience, I wished I had more time with the person to talk, connect and share. You would think this lesson would have been drilled into me by now, but sometimes I allow what’s urgent to interfere with what’s more important.
The routine was interrupted last Monday with a lesson I still need to learn: Take the time to ask before it’s too late.
Take the time to ask your daughter what made her smile today.
Take the time to ask your partner what makes him happy.
Take the time to ask yourself what you are grateful for.
Take the time to ask your mom or dad what has brought them the most joy.
Take the time to ask your son if he had three wishes what would they be.
Take the time to ask your wife what makes her feel good about herself.
Take the time to ask yourself where do you find peace.
Take the time to ask your dad what is making his life memorable.
Take the time to ask your husband what inspires him.
Take the time to ask a friend what they admire most about the world.
Take the time to ask yourself what you love in life.
Delaying the Urgent
Tomorrow is Monday and I’ve already put the dry cleaning bag in my car.
As is my routine, I will leave for work a little before 7. After ordering a Venti Bold, I will head across the parking lot to the dry cleaners.
Perhaps by now the owner has hired someone new. If so, after exchanging morning pleasantries, I will delay the urgent matters waiting at the office and take the time to ask something more important, “What’s your name?”