In an education class in college, we learned about the concept of object permanence. Until a certain age, babies don't realize that an object exists when the baby is not with that object. This is one reason babies have a hard time when left to cry until a certain age. The baby may not realize that the parent exists outside of him and will come back.
There is something interesting about this concept. It prevents the baby from taking things for granted. Sometimes we are too certain that something or someone will be around forever. This keeps us from appreciating what we have. It keeps us from actually investing in relationships sometimes--we think that we will always have time. So we keep working on organizing the house and put off having friends over for dinner, assuming we will always have the chance.
I love watching my son, who hasn't yet learned the concept of object permanence. His toys seem almost new to him each day. He is surprised anew when he sees the moon or a vase of flowers on the table. He wants to be near me and calls for me when he isn't to make sure I am still around.
I, too, must learn not to take people and gifts for granted. The cool crispness of fall will give way to the harsh cold of winter. It is hard to remember this as adults because we have seen so many autumns turn to winter. But each day really is a new day, and though there are countless hard things, there are also always more gifts to discover and savor.
Check back tomorrow for part 2 of my "When We Were on Fire" post!