In the middle of things. That is when those epiphanies slap me in the face.

Yesterday morning, I intersected with a conversation in a hospital waiting room.  An older woman, in a bright yellow jacket sat near the coffee machine.  I remember her face after listening to her words.

The nurse came in to tell her news about her husband in the operating room. I wondered why she chose to deliver the news in such a public way and I caught phrases like “not doing well, we don’t know what the surgeon will see, and we wanted to give you some kind of update so you did not have to sit alone, wondering what was going on.” After delivering this news, the nurse asked her if she was doing ok. The older lady muttered yes and then an avalanche of emotions poured out.

In a loud and distraught voice, she announced, “I can’t do this. We’ve been married 40 years. I cannot and will not live without him.” Her words pushed me to get out of my chair and glance at her face. I offered a sympathetic look, but I know my gaze would not provide any comfort. I saw perfect and defined tears  stream down her cheeks. I don’t know the details of her life, but in that moment, her emotions caught me by surprise.

I’ve always believed in listening to the whispers of the world. There are those moments that you aren’t quite certain why you are meant to listen to specific words or witness particular events, but there is that gnawing feeling that somehow it is supposed to add some substance to your life.

For the remainder of the day, I could not shake her words. It’s like that. In an instant. Everything we know changes. We forget because that is the way we can move forward with our routines. Somehow, thought,  I think I forget too much. Every single minute is precious. This is not a cliché, but a truth that I sometimes ignore.

There are 525, 949 minutes in one year. As this year comes to an end, I think about the moments that I wasted on inconsequential trivialities. Ruminating on conflicts or getting angry about a miniscule matter. Or caring too much about the wrong something. Minutes wasted on paying attention about holding on to things that needed to be let go. Much of this life is about grabbing the right moments and letting some fade away.

Every minute should revolve around one question: Does this really matter?