Lasting Change

We learn early in life that all things will change—whether it is the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the friends we make, or the scenery on the trip to school as the driver slowly drives the speed limit, much slower than the speed your mom drives when she rushes you to school.

This is one of the concepts our parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents teach as life events happen: using ordinary things as teaching moments. Older siblings shout it out like you’re hard of hearing, “Everything changes, it just does, so shut up!” By the time you are in elementary school, you know the drill, and remind yourself. Those little lessons usually come when you least expect them, and you really, really want things to stay just where they are.

Just after the funeral of my grandmother, life at home began to settle down into a new normal. This was the most difficult change to swallow. Often I would find myself remembering conversations with her. On those afternoons the two of us spent in the backyard—her tending to her gardening and me being talkative, nosy, and often defiant about what she called “the way things were.”

I went on my teenage rants about why was this, and why was that, and how it was going to be different with me. She began to talk about lasting change, which I would argue is the way it should have always been. Undaunted by my snide comments she told me something I will forever remember, and thank her for telling me.

She may have said it before, but I couldn’t hear because of the noise I was always making. She said: “Lasting change doesn’t happen overnight.” Lasting change happens in infinitesimal increments—a day, an hour, one quiet heartbeat at a time. I am so very sure I was yakking away while she said those things to me, yet it was after she was gone, I truly heard her; the truth, and simplicity of those words would guide me through a life without her.

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