In the past year, four people I know very well, including two childhood friends, have lost their mothers. A young woman I adore has lost her 25 year old brother. My nephew relayed a story of a 15 year old who committed suicide. My friend Sean lost his best friend to cancer – at 17. And this past week at church, Father Steve Madden, who recently lost his own mother, relayed that sad news that Father Brian, our new priest at Saint Mary’s Foxboro who has been welcomed and embraced, is in the hospital. And I join the Saint Mary’s community in praying for his swift recovery.
In this Face Book and Twitter era, we’re more connected than ever to the intimate happenings in each other’s lives, and I’m seeing more and more posts requesting prayers for someone battling a disease or demon. And more and more notices of people who were part of my life – gone. Friends, some old, some far too young, passing into memory.
My intention today is not to bring you down into melancholy, but to suggest to you that cherishing those around you and stopping once in a while to be thankful for them is a pretty good idea. They will be gone before you know it.
Now, before I get all Yanni on you and invite us all to “just get along,” let’s be honest and fair – there ARE people in our lives who have done us harm intentionally, and even associating with them is not a good idea. There ARE families and friends that have intentionally and cruelly hurt us and we are wise to avoid them like a jar of smallpox. We can only wish them well and leave them to their own lives.
And many people of our lives have seasons – times when they are part of our lives, and then they, and we, move onto the next season, and that is fine.
But I’m talking about the people in our lives do matter, the people who are part of our daily lives, those we like and love, but aren’t cherishing. The aunt, uncle, friend. The co-worker who’s obviously down. That person at the store who’s always so pleasant. That neighbor who you just wave to. That friend you keep promising to have lunch with, but you’re just too busy.
I’ve been going to far too many funerals and wakes these days – we all are. And as I get older I’m seeing friends come and go, people move away, and friends pass too soon. And I have not told them how I feel about them. I haven’t cherished the time with them. Hell, I haven’t even made time for many of them. Because I’m too busy.
And I think, I need to start appreciating the moments in my life that go by so fast. Founders Day – which was glorious – gone in a flash. Fourth of July will be gone before you know it and the Back to School sales will be in full swing. And by late September, the Christmas displays come up. And work, work, work, life, life, work, life… It’s all a blur.
This past week, I had the chance to join my mom and sister for three days in New Hampshire. The timing wasn’t perfect; work was busy for vacation time, funds are tight, but how many chances this lifetime will I have to spend time with family in our beloved mountain home? Last week, as we sat in North Conway enjoying an ice cream on a pleasant summer evening, I was just thinking, this moment is perfect. I’m so glad I did this. The two hundred emails and obligations will be there the next day, but I had these perfect moments. It felt good.
So, no false sentimentality, just a sincere wish that you take a moment or three NOW to appreciate what you DO have, acknowledge what’s right NOW in your life, that you tell the people you care about that they matter, and that you make the time and spend it with the people you care about, doing things you love.
What we leave behind is not as important as how we’ve lived.
End of speech. I’ll be funnier next time.