Every once in a while we get a wake-up call reminding us to pay attention. Sometimes it’s big, like five years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer. Sometimes it’s small, like the email I got from my friend, Galo, in California.

Galo sent me the link of a teacher reading a book to the graduating class of 2020. It’s Karen Kingsbury’s children’s book, “Let Me Hold You Longer.” Some of you will recognize that title and say, “Yep… I get it,” because you know it tugs on all the right heart strings.

For those of you who haven’t heard of it, let me say, it’s basically what every mom (and probably dad) thinks at some point in their lives as they watch their child move from milestone to milestone.

It reminded me of things like how Jordan, now 16, used to carry around a pink washcloth everywhere she went. And then one day, it was just gone.

It reminded me of how Charlie, now 14, used to love to hold my hand everywhere we went. And then one day, he didn’t.

It reminded me of how Ben, now 10, used to spill his cereal every morning. Oh wait. He still does that.

Anyway, I was feeling all the feels as I watched the teacher reading this book and it provided just the wake-up call I needed for what came next: a trip to a friend’s pig farm.

When you can’t go to Disney World during quarantine you visit a pig farm. Ben was the only one who really got excited about this idea, so he was the only one who went with me. It became a mother-son date!

Along with a barn full of pigs, there were chickens and kittens and fainting goats and a duck and a turkey and two horses.

I’ve seen all those animals before so to me it was review. But this was all new to Ben. My friend gave him a fresh egg that Ben carried with him for the next 5 hours. He thought if he kept it warm in his hands it might hatch.

At one point, after petting Spirit, Ben said, “Mom, that’s the closest I’ve ever been to a horse!” At that point, my friend hoisted him on Spirit’s back so Ben could have his very first horseback ride.

So many fun firsts happened in our few hours on the farm. And you know what? I was there for them. I was paying attention. They are locked in my memory, just like they are locked in Ben’s.

Wake up calls don’t have to be scary. They can be just the pin prick we need to say to ourselves, “Hey! Pay attention!”

Life is happening right here. Right now. Even though it’s constantly filled with both joy and pain, I hope maybe this is the wake-up call you need to experience both to the fullest.