We are barely half way through 2016 and its already been a jarring year. Three people in my life whom I have either known closely or peripherally have passed away- their ages spanning from young to old and the cause of death varying as well– rendering it even more difficult to piece together and make sense of. For the first time in my life I am dealing with the idea of death, wrestling with the idea of morbidity and asking the maybe too abstract, maybe too conceptual questions of where do we go after this is all over and what does it really mean to be here at one moment and not be here the next?
I dont have answers to those questions and from my experience the people who are able to most eloquently articulate their own answers are those who are deeply steeped in their faith… and yet even then responses, opinions and attitudes fluctuate. Those are inquiries that maybe I’ll try to tackle at another time but the question that Im most concerned with now are how are we treating people when they’re still here?
I like to consider myself a caring person, someone who loves deeply and nurtures the well-being of the people in my life sometimes even to my own detriment but a quick and honest glimpse of myself in retrospect leaves a lot of gaps in that portrait I’ve constructed.
Sometimes I ignore calls and forget to respond to texts from my family but spend time mulling over people who may give little thought to me. I forget that the importance of human touch exists far beyond just intimate relationships, only remembering at my lowest moments that an extended hug from family or a close friend can be the key to releasing or restoring.
I blithely deem people my “best friend” without knowing who they are, what they’re about or the intricacies of their life-story which ultimately disables either of us from building a real relationship. Perhaps the worst though is that I relegate those important messages like “I love you”, “I miss you”, “I appreciate you” or “I’m proud of you” to holidays… as if those are the only times of the year that we can express our intimate thoughts.
I, like I would assume many of us, take certain people for granted because we know that their affection is unconditional and that if we fight, mess up, forget to call back or lose touch entirely, the love they have for us will always be there whether we actively nurture it or not.
However, what I’m quickly beginning to face now is the realization that their bodies, their presence and their being isn’t eternal. While we can certainly carry whomever we’ve loved and lost through our recollections and through our faith, we miss out when we fail to at least try to create the most extensive and rich collection of memories while they’re still alive.