Cherish: 1a. to hold dear : feel or show affection for cherished friends, 1b. to keep or cultivate with care and affection : he nurtures his marriage, 2. to entertain or harbor in the mind deeply and resolutely cherishes that memoryIn the wake of two foundation-shaking events in our community, the boys having a near-tragic biking accident and a good friend suddenly suffering a stroke leaving him with no feeling on his left side, I am reminded once again of the fragility of our days.
It would seem that I, of all people, need not to be reminded of this reality. I truly appreciate and show that appreciation to those around me in word and deed, as it is well in my mind that I may not see them again. I suppose this idea was firmly planted in my consciousness when I was around the age of four. At that time, my father suffered a severe electrocution accident on a construction site resulting in the loss of his hands and being burned over the majority of his body. His lengthy stay in the hospital must have burned into my mind that things can change in the blink of an eye, a tick of the clock.
You might say that I am preoccupied with this thought, as I think of it often. I try to take 'snapshots' of moments in my mind's eye to savor later, when things change. I mentally walk through how I would respond to losing loved ones, rehearsing in my mind reactions and emotions when that time comes. Waiting for the other shoe to drop, while attempting to live each moment with fervor. Paranoid? Perhaps.
You have heard the old saying to live every day like it is your last, I'm sure. Is that possible? I know this for certain; if it were my last day to live, I wouldn't spend it cleaning the kitchen, commuting or paying the bills. Perhaps that saying is just a nice thought, but impractical in reality.
So, cherish. I find it fascinating that it is part of the standard wedding vows, "To love and to cherish...'til death do we part". What does that mean, exactly? To cherish another person more than yourself, to appreciate, protect, consider and hold dear...is that possible without being possessive, codependent and controlling? It would seem that it would require a great amount of maturity and wisdom to truly cherish another person. It is simply amazing how, in the face of crisis, little irritations and conflicts simply disappear in to thin air; suddenly we see in startling clarity the reality of our attachments. In that instance we are able to truly cherish loved ones without expectations or conditions.
"to keep or cultivate with care and affection"
I like this definition. Cultivate implies action on my part, to cause relationship to grow and flourish. What am I doing to cherish the relationships in my life? Are they worth cultivating, or better yet, how would I feel if they were suddenly gone? And, in my effort, am I expecting something in return? Should I?
It is something to meditate on, to be sure. I like this quote which seems difficult to achieve, but I try just the same:
To accept our loved ones, to the best of our ability, unconditionally and without expectation.
To love without wanting to possess or influence;
To cherish without keeping;
To have without holding.
It's not something to understand,
it's something to strive for.
I suggest that it is what cherish truly means.