Empty Case, Full Life

By Beth M. Wood

Empty Case, Full Life

On our wedding day, my parents’ oldest friends presented my new husband and me with a case of red wine. Like me, it was bold and flavorful. Unlike me, it was also full-bodied (I stand 5’9” and weigh 120). The card read “Save for the most special of occasions throughout your life together…the birth of your children, your 10-year anniversary, kids’ graduations, marriages, retirement…”

I remember thinking what a huge promise I’d made earlier that day. To love this one person, to be true to him forever. It was overwhelming. But, as all things do, time takes over, the years roll by, and I found myself raising two boys, and struggling to hold onto that marriage through increasing debt, lost jobs, house payments, the death of family members and then a third child.

The last bottle of wine that my husband and I shared was late one Christmas Eve. I’d argued that the occasion wasn’t “special enough” – we were to save the wine for the “big moments” in our life together. But he insisted, I relented, and we opened the wine, savoring the heady taste of it while we wrapped presents and assembled toys.

One year later, we separated. Once the divorce was final, I packed up my three kids and myself and moved us across town to a new home – a fresh start. As I unpacked each box, I carefully put away our belongings. Organizing the last of our things, I came across a wooden crate – our case of wine.

Of the 12 bottles, there were just 4 left. How could that be? I started doing the math. We had three kids…that left nine bottles, one 10-year anniversary…eight. Oh, and that one bottle I’d argued about opening over Christmas. That should leave seven. I was angry and disappointed. What a waste! That wine was meant to be for special occasions. And then I remembered the bottle that we’d opened late one night with a group of close friends. The bottle I’d shared with my best friend from childhood who’d flown in from Utah to visit; the night we celebrated my mom’s new job.

Sitting on my new living room floor, surrounded by boxes, kids sleeping soundly in their new bedrooms, I opened another bottle and toasted to a new life, a new way of thinking. I’d just bought my own home; I’d started over when I hadn’t thought it was possible. Before I could worry that the occasion wasn’t “special” enough, or that I’d be wasting a bottle for just one glass, I decided I’d just call my friends and family over the next night to share the rest of it with me.

So what if there were no bottles left by the time my 13 year-old graduated from high school. I’d buy a new bottle or a new case for that matter.

If we keep waiting for “big moments” we’ll miss out on all the little, special moments that make up our days, and our lives.

Maybe those “wasted” bottles of wine here and there actually mean that I appreciate the little moments, cherish the small joys and accomplishments. Maybe an empty case of wine means a full life, well lived.

About this writer

  • Beth M. Wood Beth M. Wood is an award-winning marketer, freelance writer and mom of three. Her social media addiction pays the bills and steady copywriting gigs feed her shopping habit. She blogs about marketing and social media at bethmwoodblog.com, digresses about life and parenting at bethmwood.blogspot.com and tweets @a1972bmw.

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6 Responses to “Empty Case, Full Life”

  1. Phyllis Fredericksen says:

    I thought the essay by Ms. Wood was very thought-provoking. Living many years has taught me the same thing she learned as a young woman. “Cheers” to her! All of us need to remember to cherish and celebrate the “little” moments in our lives. They turn out to be the best times of our lives.

  2. Deb Curtis says:

    This outpouring from the heart of an obviously capable and talented young author has deeply touched my own heart as it teeters on the brink of sixty. It’s sad to realize that so often the years fly by while we waste time dwelling on the past and fretting over the future. Ms. Wood reminds us all of the importance of living in and appreciating the moment!

  3. Linda O'Connell says:

    Beth Wood certainly revealed one of life’s greatest secrets, don’t wait for the big moments, make them! Great article.

  4. Hamza Balol says:

    Hello Ms. Beth,

    I guess you are the one who wrote the wonderful story “A Positive Step,” from the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, right? My heart was so touched and deeply moved for the most beautiful heart touching article I have ever read in my life. The story had a very positive impact on my life. It greatly warmed my heart and gently touched my soul. The author’s writing style is beautiful enough to fascinate the readers and the story is no doubt the heart of the book.

    Best regards,
    Hamza Balol
    Saudi Arabia

  5. Loving Mary and teaching your children to love Patty taught me 2 invaluable lessons in my life: 1)The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which we will always find love and forgiveness. 2) The heart of a mother is the loveliest masterpiece of God’s heart.

    God created mothers in a very specail way, filled them with unconditional love for their children, and made them strong enough to shoulder their responsibility. He created us to love and to be loved, to help others and to be given a helping hand. He wants us to incessantly fill our hearts with love for other people around us in this world the way you and your mother filled your hearts with love for the new wives. By filling our hearts with love for other people, it will very soon overflow into the world in which we all live.

    Have a blessed Sunday,

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