A young lad lay in his bed whimpering when he was supposed to be sleeping. His momma, who had read him storybooks and tucked him in, had thought he was sound asleep until she heard his muffled cries.
She eased her way back into the darkened room, snuggled up to her crying boy.
What’s the matter, honey? she asked.
He, fighting back the tears he could barely control, answered her: I miss yesterday!
Yesterday was a holiday. Tomorrow would be a school day. Yesterday he was with his family all day, playing. Tomorrow he will be in a classroom, learning. Yesterday was exciting. Tomorrow will be routine.
I miss yesterday!
How many times have each of us had that same sentiment? That same sense of longing for those moments that brought us pure unadulterated joy? When I think of the yesterdays I miss, they almost always include two things: the people I love and the laughter we created together.
The time my girlfriend walked out of the bathroom after a shower, nekkid as a newborn and flashed a neighbor kid that she didn’t know was there. I laughed until I thought my bladder would burst. That kid is grown now. I bet he still regards my girlfriend highly.
The time I was on the phone with Mama and she said the word “vex” but I heard the word “hex”, and I couldn’t figure out why my mama wanted to hex somebody. Mama wasn’t really one to belly laugh much, but she did over that.
That time during the Madonna era days when I stuffed two paper cups – the pointy kind – and walked through a train car to the tune of my girlfriend’s howls and my daughter’s shrieks. And yes, I was stone-cold sober.
The time I flipped a canoe on the lake on the Fourth of July, soaking me and Tim, who wasn’t laughing about it nearly as robustly as I was.
The time the dog bit off my nose – that part wasn’t all that funny – but the retelling of it has grown to be, especially the part where Tim went to check on the dog first before coming to the hospital to see how I was doing.
But there are a lot of yesterdays that I do miss everyday.
The yesterdays of loved ones passed.
The yesterdays of teenage days hanging out with friends, teeping the pastor’s yard, or hiking around Little Grand Canyon.
The yesterdays of raising up four wonderful human beings.
The yesterday of touring Paris with Tim.
The yesterday of moped ride with friends around Hanoi.
The yesterday of being interviewed by Robin Roberts on GMA and getting a phone call from Mama later telling me to sit up straighter, the way any southern mama worth her salt would do.
And the yesterday of celebrating the achievements of others I love. And as my dear friend the Redhead used to say: Even those I don’t know. There are times when I, too, feel like crying because I miss yesterday and all the people those yesterdays contained.
But unlike Janis Joplin I’m not willing to trade all my tomorrows for a single yesterday. Instead, I hope to live each day with the intention of making it a yesterday worth missing.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of CHRISTIAN BEND, a novel, Mercer Univ. Press