I know every generation goes through this, but it seems more tragic as I experience it rather than just watch it. It’s one thing never to be able to go home again once you have left for college or to live on your own. It’s another thing not to be able to capture the wonder of your first Christmas or seeing the evidence that the tooth fairy had been there. Losing our sense of awe toward life is sad, but now I am experiencing something that seems more tragic to me.
A month ago, I attended the funeral of one of my best all-time friends. She was one in a million, and I’m not the only one who felt that way. She exhibited the love of Christ to everyone she met. We were always going to have coffee and catch up…for the last two years and didn’t.
Last week I got word that a man who has been a big part of the happy days in my life is in Hospice. I visited him and his wife. She seems overwhelmed at the care and the inevitable, and he is reticent.
Tomorrow I will attend the funeral of a woman that had a considerable impact on my life as I was growing up. I should have visited her more in her last years. I was friends with her daughters, and I learned a lot from her. One of her daughters died a couple of years ago from quick-growing cancer. Now the other daughter is the lone survivor of her original family.
The tragedy of opportunities to communicate love and concern is real. And realizing I hadn’t cherished the time I had with them as much as I could have leaves a feeling of lostness. I could have spent time listening to their stories and their concerns.
There’s no point in beating myself up over this since it is not a surprise that people die, often quietly and unexpected, even if they die in their nineties.
So, what’s the lesson? For me, there are a few.
- Is my priority building a comfortable life or enjoying the people around me that have shaped who I am or will become?
- Slow down. The dust will wait, the leaves will remain on the lawn, the laundry will be there. Nothing I have to do in my retirement is more important than spending time with the people I love for however long we need to talk or enjoy our time together.
- Maybe it’s just me. I can have so many things going through my brain; I feel overwhelmed. Once I figure out the answer to my confusion is not found in the refrigerator, I often close myself off from all my mess by knitting or reading. Even that is hard because I am thinking about and planning my next knitting project or remembering another book I wanted to read and……where did I put that? I don’t think I use to be A.D.D.
- In rest, there is refreshment, restoration, and creativity.
The point is we can come up with so many reasons to not nurture our friendships and then one day they are gone: the opportunities, the friends, time.
I remember my parents seem to be always going to a visitation or a funeral. It seemed like a depressing way to live. Here I am doing the same thing, and it is a sad way to live. Adding the awareness of missed opportunities to memories is too much sometimes. While we are able we need to set our priorities to spend time with friends and family. We should slow down and make the most of our time together. We need to focus on listening and caring. A time of rest can work wonders and who better to be with than friends and family.
Living while acknowledging the precious time we have with those we love is a ministry to those we love and to ourselves and possibly the next generation that may notice our efforts.