What the crosswalk lady said unsettled me

On our way home from school, a stream of neighborhood children cross at an intersection where a woman with a rich Latin-American accent greets every child by name as she helps them across the street every day. Dulce’s our crosswalk lady.

She makes our neighborhood feel like home. Dulce’s always wearing her uniform and a smile.

The first time we crossed her street, she asked for our son’s name, told us to write it down on paper and give it to her because she wanted to remember it.

Now, whenever she sees him, she always says hi to him by name. Not only do we heart New York, but New York also hearts us.

Summer is approaching, and last week, instead of just saying hi, there was a chance to say more. We asked Dulce what she was doing this summer.

“Oh, I no work in the summer. Life is too short. Ju know?!” she said with conviction. I didn’t expect her words, and they sank into me.

They lingered. All the way home, I sloshed them around my mind like a sommelier with fine wine, savoring each flavor. I could taste truth in what she said. It was earthy.

A neighbor told me that he’s only got about twenty or so more summers in his life. He’s fifty-something. I’m not far from that, but the number twenty sounded small to me—uncomfortably short.

What do I work for? Why do I spend the time on the things I do? What will matter most to me and those whom I love at the end of four handfuls of summers?

I know I want to make them count. Watch my boys grow. Hug and squeeze them. And make the love of my life laugh. Money is great. But memories are better.

Life is too short. Ju know?!

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