Recently I received an email that read, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

I read it and then asked myself if I had moments that took my breath away? Further, how many of these moments had been recently?

Bad moments that scare us can take our breath away, but that’s not the question. I’m talking about moments so filled with pure feeling, passion, awe, or reverence, that one forgets to breathe, moments so precious that time stops.

The first such moment I can recall came when the doctor handed me my first born. After eighteen endless hours of hard labor with no anesthesia, my little boy came into the world breach and two months early.

Trying to realize that this living, breathing, person was the same one who lived inside my body, the very idea took my breath away. I never wanted to spoil the magic of that moment.

And low and behold, when I delivered my three precious girls, the very same feeling came over me. The birth of a baby to me is the miracle of miracles.

Another such moment occurred in the high mountains of France. Gene and I had been away from home for three weeks. It was a dream trip for us, but there was a problem.

We had a big yellow Tabby cat named Perry Fat Cat who was my constant companion. I was missing him, the feel of him, the sound of him, I literally ached for him.

One misty morning as we were loading our car to leave, the people in the next car were also preparing to leave. The woman was holding a Siamese cat and I could not take my eyes from that beautiful cat contentedly purring in her arms.

The woman looked at me and, “heard my need” and understood without a word spoken. She simply walked over to me and held out her cat to me.

She only spoke French and I only English, but it mattered not. I took her cat into my arms and buried my face in her fur.

For a moment the cat extended her claws but because it was truly a “take my breath away moment,” she retracted her claws and began to purr.

It lasted only a few moments but when I was filled, I simply handed her back to the lady. Still, not one word was exchanged.

You know, I still feel breathless when I recall the pure joy, not only holding the French cat, but how two people who didn’t know each other could communicate on such an instinctual and intimate level.

One of my most precious and powerful breath-taking-moments in my life happened in Kentucky. I have written about my best friend, Judy. One day in October, she left this world and mine changed forever.

During the last three or four weeks before she died of breast cancer, there were several of us friends who took turns staying with her because she did not want to be alone. She would go hours without saying a word and we always praised those hours because they meant she was resting from pain.

But one day I was standing next to her bed, holding her hand, smoothing back her hair, trying to drink in her essence, and knowing it would soon be over.

Suddenly, she opened her eyes, focused on me and said, “Jean, sing to me.” Of course I said I would but what did she want to hear?

Closing her weary eyes and then as she opened them again she said, “sing ‘Jesus Loves Me.’” I’ve known this song all my life so I began to sing, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

Suddenly Judy began to sing with me and to this day I don’t know where she got the strength to sing on key but then as we sang other friends sitting in the living room heard us and came into her bedroom.

Can you hear it?

We stood around her bed holding hands and we all sang “Jesus Loves Me.” It may have been the most spiritual, precious moment in my life. That simple children’s song raised me right to the floor of God. For a few moments breathing was unnecessary.

I choked as I silently watching Gene, my husband, at his eighty-second birthday party. He got up from his chair and danced with two of his grandchildren, ages one and two and a half. It wasn’t the dance that touched me so much, it was the adoration of those two baby’s faces as they looked up at the face of their grandpa. It made me cry at the beauty of it.

I could go on forever. I have come to realize that my life has been enriched with these kind of breathtaking moments. I see that these moments don’t have to be dramatic but rather can be of the simplest kind. It’s just for us to recognize them when they happen.

Once, at my beautiful horse farm in Kentucky, we had a number of family, including my brother Jim. It was fall and everybody was out back enjoying the perfect day.

All of the sudden Jim asked each one of us to stop whatever we were doing and realize that we were all inside a most magical day. He said he didn’t know why, but that we should not miss a moment of it.

The rest of us stayed very still so that the painfully beautiful moment would pour over us. There was stillness, spiritualness and, one by one, we knew deep inside not to breath but to just feel because there are no words to describe such a feeling.

Please, I beg of you, slow down your life and be ready to recognize these gifted moments, for they are surely right there in your life. Let’s not be so preoccupied and busy and tired to know they when they come to us. Don’t miss your precious moments.

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