Today my heart is broken.
I thought 2017 would be better than 2016, but it feels like more of the same. Except this time, it’s personal.
A friend and former junior high/high school classmate of mine, someone I was in swing choir and concert choir with but whom my recent interactions with were limited to Facebook, is now gone. At just 42 years old.
What I know is limited to Facebook posts and a few private messages with others, but on December 30th, she was admitted to the hospital with lung and heart failure, and was eventually put into a medically induced coma. What was initially thought to be pneumonia turned out to be a bad heart valve. While there had been signs of improvement in the weeks that passed, there had also been unfortunate setbacks. From what I can gather from various social media posts, she suffered cardiac arrest the night of January 11th but was revived. Unfortunately, a few hours later she was gone. She just celebrated her birthday a few weeks ago.
The many posts of remembrance so far on Facebook seem to echo my thoughts and feelings. She was always a light. Always seemed happy. Always seemed joyful and brought joy to others. Even though many of us hadn’t really connected with her since high school or our 20 year reunion a few years ago, we still remember those things about her.
A few years ago, she took a big risk and moved to the Seattle area, all by herself, for her job. From what I’ve seen on Facebook, it seems she made it her home. Had friends. Joined a church and sang in the choir. Had her dog Sophie whom she adored.
I admired her for it. I’m sure she was scared and anxious and unsure, but she just went for it. She moved miles away from a family she was very close to and friends she loved, to live her life. Take a chance. Follow her intuition.
Knowing that if things got too crazy, or didn’t work out, she could always come back home.
She was home when she got sick, visiting for the holidays. I can’t stop thinking about how fortunate for everyone that she wasn’t home alone. She had her family and friends and those who loved her around her in her final weeks. To hold her hand, take care of her, let her know she was loved and cared for, to pray over her, to say their goodbyes, and to say I love you.
That’s that problem, at least for me. I don’t say I love you enough. With family that isn’t immediate and most of my friends, we just don’t regularly say I love you. It’s not because we don’t. I think it’s because it’s just not who we are. Maybe it’s because it’s implied. Whatever the reason, I’m starting to hate it – that I…that we, just believe it’s implied.
I want my family to know I love them, not because it’s “implied” but because I say it.
I want my dear friends to know I love them, not because it’s implied, but because I say it.
And I want to know if they feel the same way, not because it’s implied, but because THEY say it.
I know for some this is hard to do, probably because we just aren’t used to it or “trained” for it. Maybe it’s like a muscle — the more we use it, the stronger it becomes until “I love you” is just muscle memory. Something we do without even having to give it a second thought.
Instead of doing a New Year’s Resolution, for the second year in a row I wanted to pick my word of the year. I had a few ideas, but one kept coming back and really resonated:
Real connection with the people who mean something to me. With people who inspire and influence me. And the people I’d love to be able to inspire and influence at some point through my blog and writings.
Social media “relationships” and text conversations are better than nothing, but is that really the best we can do?
Why do we wait until the people who mean something to us are sick, dying or dead before we tell them how we feel about them? That they inspire us. That they have changed and effected our lives in some way, whether it be big or small.
So in line with my word and theme for 2017, I hope to plan more lunch, coffee and dinner dates with friends, more phone calls instead of texts. I look forward to more game nights, movie nights, dinner time conversation and electronic-free moments with my kids. And I want to start having more date nights and alone time with Kevin, especially this summer as we celebrate 20 years of marriage. And I will blog with more consistency, variety, and when possible attend KC blogger meetups in order to grow my blog, make connections with people with similar interests and hopefully potential readers.
And to my friends, when we meet up again, just be prepared for hugs, for I love yous, and if I have a little wine, you might get the full run down of everything about you that makes me want to be around you.