Today is a day like any other, but it’s also extraordinary. It’s December 12th, 2012, the last date anyone now alive will ever see which can be written as a repeating number – i.e. 12/12/12. It’s a rare and special thing, but also a fleeting and ephemeral treasure.
The other day, I came upon a fridge magnet among my possessions. It was purchased in Dubrovnik, years ago, when I was there on holiday with some friends. At the time I bought it, I intended it to be a present for my grandmother, but I never gave it to her – when I came home, she became ill, and we lost her not long after. I suppose, in the confusion surrounding her death, I put the tiny present away and forgot all about it. When I found the fridge magnet again, it brought back all sorts of regret and sorrow that I thought I’d dealt with, and it made me miss my grandmother with a hollowing ache. I loved her (and still love her) very dearly; her photo sits on my hall table, so whenever I leave my home or return to it, she’s there, smiling at me. I think of her every day with gentle remembrance. But I crumpled over that fridge magnet, full of remorse and loss. I realised that I hadn’t really treasured my grandmother enough while she lived – she was always just there, living in the house next door, pottering around in her back garden, laughing at the drop of a hat – and it was only when she left us that I understood how dear she was to me.
The fridge magnet was cheap; just a souvenir, like any other. No doubt it will fall off the fridge one day and smash to pieces on the floor, or the magnet will come away from the back, and the tiny plastic reproduction of Dubrovnik’s medieval wall will skitter away under a cupboard, never to be seen again. It (like the date, like today, like a life) is ephemeral – a temporary treasure. I’m going to use it, though, and look at it every day until I lose it, as I know I will. Knowing that something is temporary should give you an even greater need to appreciate it, but as happens too often in life, things (and people) are taken for granted, and we only miss them once they’re lost.
Make the most of this unique day. And treasure everything.