In Case I don’t See You…

We rush everywhere. We rush for the perfect gifts for Christmas on Black Friday, we’ll wait for hours just to be first so we don’t have to miss out on that item we “need”. We rush to be first in line at Carpool so we can be the first to leave. We rush to grab all of the toilet paper at the start of any emergency, or in the case of this year, a pandemic (and, lol, I am still not sure why that happens, but selfishness is the first word that comes to mind and not wanting to live without luxury is the phrase that comes afterward).

We, as human beings, don’t like to wait.

However, what I’ve noticed over the course of my life, we will wait forever to say things that need to be said right away, things that should be said over and over again. We don’t mind saying things too late. We are okay with acknowledging people and what they mean to us AFTER they are already gone. Funerals, Rest In Peace wishes on Facebook, hitting share on the obituaries, sharing meaningful anecdotes and, “I can’t believe its”, on memorial pages…in our feelings, we are overcome with emotion, and we rush to say them, only that person is gone and they’ll never hear it-at least from our own mouths with their ears.

And you know what? Maybe they needed to hear these things in person.

I look around and I see wars, backbiting, jealousies, envy, political debates, etc. What we have forgotten to do is rush forward with being authentic, grateful, and brave.

Because it takes authenticity, gratitude, and emotional bravery to be honest and sure enough of yourself to look the people that matter the most (that have shared special moments of your life with you) in the eyes and tell them that they matter to you and that you love them. Too many people DO NOT do this until it’s too late and we tell ourselves that “they knew”, but I think we also rush to make ourselves feel better whenever we experience pain and thus, to quote Friends, “How do we really know that they know that we know” how special they were to us? There are more of my friends and family on anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication than friend and family who are NOT prescribed medications or seeking help for these disorders. I have to see a therapist for my own acute anxiety and work through the issues I have from not receiving love or affection whenever I needed it most.

And so, I ask, why? Why are we not communicating these simple and significant words of affirmation in our relationships? Why are we not “rushing” to do these? They are free, they don’t cost money, they require very little effort. They are the gifts that mean the most. We rush and we rush in order to not be out of time, and yet, not one of us can control time and not one of us can stop the clock of anyone else. We are all mere mortals who really don’t know how long we have with someone.

This week I discovered that a childhood friend of mine, who is dear to my heart, is extremely ill and now in the ICU in critical condition. I see all of the outpouring of love and memories and they are heartwarming and poignant. What saddens me, though……

………….is that she can’t see them right now. I hope that she does see them, I hope she sees how much she is loved and I hope more than anything that she sees it soon. I hope we are not too late.

I have stared death in the face before and I remember whenever people (who truly meant well), started to send well-wishes and thoughts and prayers, but it was only after they found out that an early death was a possibility. Although they meant well, I was already too deep in the diagnoses of thinking, “this is it”, that it mattered very little at the time what anybody said, no matter how kind or nice. As much as I hate to admit it, I had thoughts like , “I wish I’d seen this earlier,”or, “I wish you’d been around when I needed someone holding my hand at the doctor’s office”.

Now, I get it. I completely understand that we are all busy, we don’t live near everyone that matters to us. We have all of this technology at our fingertips, though. We have smartphones, laptops, Facebook, Zoom, thousands of apps, etc. Yet, our time on it is used to argue politics, follow celebrity gossip pages, gain likes from selfies, or to promote brands.

So, wouldn’t that mean, though, that we don’t have an excuse? We have the technology, we have a little time, we’re just not putting a priority on people.

I just wish that would end. As I sit worrying about my friend, worrying about my sick toddler, and worrying for a cousin who is in the hospital with COVID-19- I recognize once more that this is a year of a pandemic and whether or not it has affected me, I should (at the very least) let this year be a reminder of my absolute mortality and the definite mortality of everyone that matters to me. There were more lessons to be learned of 2020, but that’s another story.

Things That Ought to be Said More Often Before it’s Too Late:

  1. I Love You— There really isn’t much of an explanation for this one. However, whenever we say it, it shouldn’t be casual and we shouldn’t take it lightly. We should mean what we say and say it often so that the person we care about never has to doubt that it’s true. If you are my child, relative, friend, “I love you.”
  2. Thank You— One of the definitions of “gratitude” and “thankfulness” is the “readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”, and thus, belonging to a kinder world begins with a, “Thank you.” If you have ever given me anything, whether it was as small as a tight hug or as huge as financial help, I hope you know I am beyond grateful and treasure all of it. “Thank you very much”.
  3. I Am Still Learning– I think we should take ownership of our mistakes more often than we do. Let us stop pretending that we are perfect and our children are perfect, that’s such a wasteful pastime because it is not the truth and it is NOT authentic. Whenever we pretend to be perfect we are teaching the world comparison and comparison is the thief of all joy. Whenever we hurt someone or make mistakes (and it is bound to happen eventually), let us not point fingers but own it. If we don’t know something, instead of pretending we do (which is how misinformation becomes a thing), let’s be brave enough to say, “I am still learning,” because the thing is, that’s how our mind works. We always have something to learn and we should always be willing to learn until the day our bodies stop. If we all knew everything already, I would expect the world would be a better place than it was. Saying, “I am still learning”, is to be open-minded and humble. To anyone I know, if I’ve hurt you inadvertently or on purpose, or if I’ve offended you: “I am still learning” to navigate life and I am working on myself daily. It’s an ongoing process until I’m no longer here, so be patient with me.
  4. I’m Sorry— I’ll never understand why it’s so difficult to say these words. My kids will say it whenever they get scolded for something, sometimes meaning it and sometimes just saying it to get out of their consequences. This definitely works the same as, “I love you,” or “I am still learning.” It’s important to sincerely mean these words and it’s important to say them if you know you’ve played a part in someone else’s hurt. It’s crucial to stop the behavior that warrants the “I’m sorry”, but again, we’re all still learning, right? I don’t know if there would have been as many wars in our history had people been better at saying this phrase in the past. That’s something to think about. For anyone still mad at me about something in the past or the recent present, “I’m sorry.” There are no motives here, “I’m sorry,” again.
  5. I Forgive You— because I also want to be forgiven. I don’t want to get to my next life weighted down with the burdens of grudges. I’ve had my fair share of people who have hurt me deeply, abused me, and taken advantage of me. I can discern that these are things that should never have happened but judgment is not mine to give. “I forgive you” is something that is kind to say to others but kinder, still, to ourselves. “I forgive you” is granting peace to another human being who “is still learning” and all people deserve to feel what peace can do for them. Peace doesn’t mean strife doesn’t exist, it just means that the bad things in this world won’t control our lives. Peace gives everyone a chance and doesn’t discriminate. “I forgive you” is the start of a more peaceful life. To those who’ve hurt me, abused me, taken advantage of me, you know who you are and I do not need to call out anything other than, “I forgive you.” Judgment, again, is not mine to give but forgiveness is something I can give out in abundance. “I forgive you.”

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!