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The price of tomorrow should never be today

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I’m so used to these canvases hanging on the wall that I don’t often stop to admire them anymore. They aren’t anything fancy, they aren’t framed, they’ll never be discovered as pricey works of art, and one of them even has a puncture hole from our last move.

But they are priceless to me.

In 2009, our daughters Alex (6) and Emma (4) painted them. The girls were fresh on the heels of a Pantothenate Kinase Associated Neurodegeneration diagnosis and we were all still making peace with the fact that this genetic disorder would progress until it would eventually take their lives.

Like I had every day of theirs lives, I woke up each morning and cared for my daughters. The only thing that changed was the knowledge that they were dying. Despite the gravity of that truth, I was acutely aware that they were still alive and I wasn’t willing to waste a single day.

So on that December day, I propped my daughters at the kitchen table and I let them paint. I didn’t know that Emma would die 27 months later and that Alex would follow less than 2 years later. I didn’t know what the future held, how the time would pass, or what would happen along the way. But I knew we had that day and so I let them paint.

These canvases have now hung on the wall for more than a decade. Last week, our 5-year-old daughter, who only knows her sisters through photos and stories, stopped to ask this question.

“Mom, did Alex and Emma feel frustrated that their paintings weren’t perfect?”

“No, they were just happy to paint,” I told her. And what truth that was.

Life comes at us, friends. And it just keeps coming. It doesn’t always look like we think it should and it’s awfully easy to get swept away in the what ifs and could bes.

You should certainly do what you must to prepare for the days, months, and years ahead of you, but the price of tomorrow should never be today.

We can’t always control the path we’re on, but we can choose how we make the journey. Will it be perfect? Probably not. Will we get frustrated? Certainly. Will it be messy? For sure. Can we still choose to paint? You better believe it.

Keep painting, friends. There’s still so much life to live and it’s worth the beautifully imperfect mess.


This piece originally appeared on

Follow Mandy McCarty Harris, writer for more stories of living happily in the messy middle of life, love, and parenting.

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