Cherish the people you love—and put it in writing
In the last nine months, I’ve lost four friends (one online friend and three from high school). These friends were in their forties and early fifties. Each one “dropped dead” out of nowhere (no warning, no long illness). To say I’m still in shock is an understatement.
Each day I log onto Facebook, I see references to these friends (their profiles are still up and people pay tribute). The most recent high school friend, Alison, died, leaving behind two kids and a much loved husband, not to mention all of us—her friends. Breathtaking how quickly she is gone and not coming back—and how much we all miss her.
The rest of us live with the illusion that we’ll all get 70+ years on the planet. Today, with advances in medicine, it seems as if we all deserve 80 or more!
But the truth is: we just don’t know when our time will come. When I read the lovely notes written to the ones who’ve gone on before me, after they are gone and unable to read them, I’m reminded of how important it is to reach out to the people in our lives now, in writing, to say “I love you. I value who you are and have been to me.”
Ironically, my college boyfriend did that for me. It had been 30+ years since we had last spoken. In his note, he reflected back to me who I was at the time and compared that image of me to who I am today. It was powerful to read his words and to take stock of all the changes, all the growth, and even some of the losses. His writing = gift, to me, at this time.
These experiences (so much more common in our fifties, I’m sure) have given me pause. I’ve put a lot of who I am in writing (there would be a lot to read from me, if I were to pass suddenly, and that writing might be a comfort to the family and friends I would leave behind). But it occurred to me also that it’s important to express *to* those we value just how much we do love them, and why—and how they’ve been precious to us in our lives.
My mother, Karen O’Connor, has kept “grandchildren journals” for each of her grandchildren. Each time she sees any of them, she makes an entry (unless they are local, then she makes entries after special events). On the 18th birthday of the grandchild, she presents this journal as a snapshot of how her relationship with this person has grown and been cherished for 18+ years. Writing. Love. Personal and concrete. Able to be read again and again, even after she eventually leaves us (sob – don’t want to think about it!).
I say all this today so you might pause and cherish someone right in front of you, or even remotely. Maybe it’s a long lost friend, maybe it’s a relative, maybe it’s the child sitting across from you behind your computer screen right now. It’s good to say “I love you” and to mean it. It’s even better to put it in writing sometimes—to do the soul excavation of why this person has value in your life and how grateful you are to know this friend, parent, spouse, child.
Why wait until the loved one is gone to express all in your heart to say? Say it now. Write it now. Cherish the people you love, and let them have a concrete, tangible record of your love for them.
Pick one person today.
Cross-posted on facebook.
Image by Jose Roco