I lost a friend recently. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a death in my life that has filled me with such regret. He lived in D.C. and we spoke fairly regularly and would see one another when he would come to Chicago. I used to fly out to D.C. for weekend getaways and he would always let me stay with him and make sure I had the best time. He’d take me around the city, introduce to all of his friends and we would have a ball. Those weekends, I swear I never slept! He loved giving me unsolicited dating advice, especially because I was a newly single woman and he always encouraged and challenged me as a writer. I was in DC last year with my kids on spring break. It was the kids first time there so I was overscheduled (as usual) with an itinerary that included every must see landmark. He learned I was in DC on social media and scolded me for not coming to see him during that week long stay and I told him, I would definitely make time to see him next time I was in town…
But there would be no next time.
People say, Life is short and you never know when it changes but my friends’ death made me wonder why I hadn’t made visiting him a priority. He was my friend, not an acquaintance, a friend that I shared things with, a friend I loved and cared about. Now I’m left with the “shoulda, coulda, woulda’s and I’m angry at myself for not making that visit a priority. It made me wonder, what kind of friend am I really? I’m blessed to have friends that I love, trust and care about and I’d like to say I was a good friend but now I’m not so sure. On the surface, it would appear I’m a great friend. If they call me, I’ll be there. If they need to talk, if they need me to do something, I definitely try to make it happen. I will definitely listen and when we are together, we are having the time of our lives but if I go deeper, and really do some reflecting, I’m finding that I don’t make time the way I always should.
We get so caught up in our own lives, our own issues, struggles and “ life’s mud”, that we forget that our friends are just like us. Living, breathing and navigating through this thing we call life. When was the last time you picked up a phone and called instead of sending a text? When was the last time you communicated with friends outside of social media? When was the last time, you asked a friend, “Hey, how are you doing? Everything good?” If I’m honest, I’m really bad at that. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about my friends, their well-being and their lives, it means, I’m so overscheduled and so caught up in my own life that I leave little time to nurture the relationships that mean so much to me. My friends’ death was a gut punch to my spirit but also a wakeup call to do better in my friendships.
I can admit I am so busy lately. Those rare moments when I have nothing to do, I’m usually sleeping. I’m burning the candle on both ends and it’s exhausting sometimes. My websites, my job, songwriting, blogging, my kids, family time, bills, etc., all take up so much time, I tend to forget my village needs nurturing. My village needs me as much as I need them. The strength of my village is dependent on how present we are in one another’s lives. A simple, “Hey, just checking on you” phone call or a “hey, didn’t want anything, just wanted to talk” is all it takes to let your friends know you are in their thoughts. We all get busy; it seems like life is moving faster and faster every day. Death and loss have a way of slowing it down and shifting your focus. Life really is all about balance and equilibrium and we can always do better. Tell the ones you care about how much you love them, make time for one another and do it as often as you can. Life really is short and people you care about can be taken away in an instant. Sometimes, there isn’t a “next time”.
R.I.H. Jon…I hope you know how much you meant to me.
Until Next Time,