It wasn’t the best of weeks in the Mikash family this week. On Tuesday my wife called, I picked up and heard only sobbing on the other end. Now, you’d have to know my wife but suffice to say she’s not the call you sobbing about minor things type. I’ve fielded calls when she’s lost her job, when she’s just been in a car accident, a number of times when she’s frustrated or upset, she’s never sobbing. No, I know if I pick up the phone to that then something is seriously wrong and that was the case this Tuesday.

My father in-law is in his 80s these days. Still working his farm to keep young but time is catching up, as it does with us all. On Tuesday he was rushed to the hospital with the signs of what appeared to be a stroke. As it turned out, we would be incredibly fortunate. The MRI, the CT scan, EKG, everything came back negative. Obviously we were all relieved to hear the good news, but concerned because the doctors could not, and still can’t, determine a cause for the symptoms. My wife flew to her parents on Thursday, same day her Dad was being discharged from the hospital, and it’s been just me and the girls at home.

In many ways we dodged a bullet. The early symptoms were not promising and I think all of us wondered if this was going to be it. Thank god it was not and thank god my wife got a chance to go down and see her Dad. There was much consternation about it, given her parents are in the at-risk category for coronavirus and we had been very strict about minimizing our travel. We’d in fact been scheduled to go see her family all the way back in March, but have pushed it off time and time again in the interest of safety. She took every precaution and went alone to make sure we kept her parents safe.

So I’ve spent the better part of the week wrangling the kids while balancing work and normal day to day chores, and believe it or not it’s given me time to reflect. Sometimes when we are looking to find what makes us happy we look in all the wrong places. I spend so much time trying to tick off that next thing on my list of work priorities. I spend so much time obsessing about what’s next in life and making a plan to get there. Sometimes I forget to take a step back and to just breathe and enjoy what I have. I forget to remember what is truly important and to remind myself to focus on it, rather than the ancillary tasks of day to day life. For me, there’s no greater thing I have than my family.

The neighborhood pool opened up this week. We had planned on going to that but quickly realized it was more likely to be a coronavirus Petri dish than anything else. So instead I took the girls to a park, masked up even though there was no one else there, and just watched them play for a couple hours. There was a great amount of peace in that moment. It reminded me that it’s not always about where we are going, or what we will get when we get there. The girls had been bugging me to take them to that park for a couple weeks and were so happy to finally get the chance to go down the “huge slide that makes your hair fly back.” I realized my joy in that moment was because of their joy. It wasn’t anything in particular I was doing but simply the fact that those that I love were happy is what made me happy.

It’s really the people that share your journey that are the most important. I’ve found myself enjoying cooking more and more these days, and I’ve realized it’s because my 4 year old always wants, and now is old enough, to help. Cooking is no longer a necessary chore, it’s a time to share something with someone I love. Those moments, whether they are playing at a park or cooking or whatever it is you get to share in them, are precious. They are the best parts of life.

As we head towards what is undoubtedly the most contentious election of our lifetimes, things are going to get messy, things are going to get ugly, things are going to get heated. People will say hateful things, friends and families will find themselves divided by their political beliefs. I’m not here to tell anyone that their beliefs or values aren’t important, because they are, but be reminded that who you choose to love is the most important. It’s something you get to choose, no-one else, so choose well. Who we love and who we share our moments with, even the most mundane, are the most important thing in the world. Cherish that, pay attention to that and give maintenance to that.