Leslie Handler

writes from Trenton

She was listening to the silence. She was looking into the darkness. She could feel the air in the room - as still as a deer in headlights. She inhaled deeply but smelled nothing. When she tried to eat, she could only taste her own saliva as it tried to produce a flavor, any flavor, other than its own. She was on her deathbed.

I don't want to be her. I hope I'm never her.

If I live to a ripe old age and find myself in my own deathbed looking back on my life, I hope I'll have no regrets.

I hope that when I lie there, I'll hear the sounds of my loved ones chatting with one another.

I hope I'll see the light on their faces and know that I left a good impression on them.

I hope I can feel their love and touch them with mine.

I hope that one of them brings in a home-cooked meal so that we can share in the scents and tastes of family recipes that take us back to many good memories.

Then I know I'll be able to let go and die in peace because to me, I will have lived a successful life - a life full of memorable moments.

I've spent way too much time looking down at my phone when I should be engaged in a live conversation.

I spent too much time waiting until I was finished with school, had a job, got married, had kids, was an empty nester, or saved more money.

The time is now.

During the holidays, we sometimes reflect on the past year and make resolutions for the coming one. We regret the past and have high hopes for the future. However, we completely forget about now - right now.

I vividly remember a day when my kids were young. I was busily cleaning out my refrigerator. They came to me with a board game and asked me to play with them.

"Not now, girls, I'm in the middle of cleaning," I said. "Maybe later."

Fortunately for me, I realized almost immediately how ridiculous I was being. How long will the children be little? How often will they want to spend time with me? How important is a clean refrigerator anyway? I put down the towels and the cleaning spray and proceeded to play with them right that minute. Today, more than 20 years later, I fondly remember playing with my girls on that chilly fall day.

Of course, we can't always stop everything to do whatever we want. The trash has to go out, the bills have to be paid, and we do eventually have to clean that refrigerator. But we can control when we do these chores, what takes priority, and what attitude we take toward every task we have.

It's really very liberating to stand in the middle of a line at the checkout of the grocery and suddenly realize you don't have to be in a hurry. Seriously, I have actually had my panties all in a twist to get through a line in record time just so I can get home to do nothing. When I actually take five seconds to untwist myself and realize that there is no reason I have to rush, my shoulders relax and my attitude changes from tense and curt to relaxed and patient.

I actually saved 10 bucks at Target the other day just because I didn't cause a fuss about the cashier taking too long with a customer who forgot her debit-card password. The cashier was so grateful to me for simply being patient that she rang up an item with a $5 discount and then let me use my 5 percent-off card!

I think karma gave me that discount even more so than the cashier herself. Instead of being frustrated and in a hurry to get to my next errand, I just took a moment to adjust my attitude and live in the moment. We joked about our situation, we laughed, I saved a few bucks, and now I have a pleasant memory to add to my memorable-moments bank account.

Because one day, I hope to live to a ripe old age and find myself on my deathbed. When I do, I hope to use all five senses to recall fond memories full of love and happiness. I don't want any regrets. But you know what? I'm not going to dwell on waiting for that day to get here. I'm in no hurry. I have more memorable moments to create right now.