“You need to be more careful with that,” his father warns. “What will you do when the bucket is empty?”
“But it’s such a big bucket. There’ll always be plenty. Besides, can’t we just get more?”
He scoops again, but this time his father wraps a hand around his wrist. His grip is soft but firm, and he gently looks into his son’s eyes, letting his smile light them with the glow of knowledge and love.
“The bucket can never be refilled, my son. We need every drop to nourish our souls, to build our lives, to grow our love. Use it wisely, use it slowly. During the course of our lives, especially when we are young, we all toss some to the wind in folly. As long as there are hearts filled with laughter and smiles and memories to long cherish, it’s never a waste. But always remember, once it is gone, it is gone.”
His father turns the boy’s hand, guiding him to empty the ladle back into the bucket. He then lets his hand go and kneels down, carefully rubbing the mud off the outside of the bucket, exposing a small placard, its tattered edges folding over.