I’ve been going through a lot over the past year since I began this painful journey towards divorce. Many emotional, mental, even physical challenges have come up and put me to the test. But, I have kept my head down, eyes on the finish line gritting my teeth, pushing forward, for most of it. Focused. Determined.
And while it was the only way I could get through it at the time, my method for dealing with an upheaval of my life, I realize now that I’ve missed so much along the way. I’ve let things fall by the wayside, redirected my attention and energy away from “less important” tasks and responsibilities so I can direct all of my energy towards this process. I’ve put more than a few things on the back burner, trusting that I can pick them up where I left off and hoping that nobody will really notice. They won’t notice that I’m not paying close attention to life’s events and deadlines, I’m not even completely engaged sometimes, and they won’t remember that I checked out a bit and let it slip through my fingers.
I’ve been skimming the headlines of my life basically, using my previous Evelyn Wood speed reading training to get me through another day, week or month. Conserving my energy for the real battles. Promising myself that I will make it up in the end.
I will be a better friend, mother, family member, volunteer. When this is all over.
But yesterday, I had a reality check. I’ve had small ones lately, needling me to get my attention, now that I can see the light of day again. I’ve come back to my “normal” life, blinking in the clear, bright sunlight like a coma patient finally waking up and asking “what year is this?” So many things have changed around me, people have shifted, in ways that I hadn’t noticed until just this week.
An older friend of mine, in his late 70’s, had a heart attack the other night and is in the hospital now. It happened as he was waking up one morning, lucky for him. The doctor said had he not woken up at that time he probably never would have.
We have been promising each other that we would go out for an authentic taco dinner, with our families, since summer camp this year. We still haven’t gone.
Another good friend of mine, in his mid 50’s, was diagnosed with stage four cancer, over the holiday break. He’s an active, funny guy with a twinkle in his eye and a hearty laugh. He’s a good ole boy, driving his pickup truck and listening to country music but able to rebuild or reprogram your computer in a heartbeat. He’s been a sanity saver, a shoulder to cry on, a clown to make me laugh many times during this tough time in my life. He helped my son work on his classic car to get it ready for my brother’s wedding, to the point that he would come help anytime my son called with a question or problem – even at ten at night, in his pajamas! We bought a bottle of good vodka (his drink of choice) and have had a thank you note waiting for him since mid-October, but my son wanted to take him for a ride in the car before officially thanking him with these gifts. But the car keeps breaking down, ending up in the shop, and hasn’t seen the road for more than a day at a time so far. The ride hasn’t happened. The bottle is still sitting on my counter.
When I heard about both of my friends yesterday, yes I found out about both at the same time which was more than overwhelming, I hung up the phone and cried. Cried from the deepest depths of my heart. I hurt for them, and I hurt for myself. I hurt for the activities and the people that I have put off until “this is over”. I cried for the guilt of checking out in other areas of my life to make things easier in this area. I cried for the dates not kept, the promises not met. How many more are there? How much have I missed? Who else have I lost?
Am I too late?
I woke up today with a new sense of time, a new appreciation for my relationships, a renewed sense of purpose for my involvement in my community, my friends, my human connections and how precious it all is. And how much we still need all of it even in our darkest moment. I wish that I could have balanced it all better, that I could have compartmentalized it and dealt with it all in a more ideal way. But I did the best I could.
We always tell each other to live life to the fullest! Live each day as if it is your last!
I’m telling you, don’t just talk about it, do it. Make the plans, share that bottle of wine, go to dinner, make that call, connect! Connect now to the people you love to have in your life, and not later, connect now. Not “when this is over”. Not “next time I see him”. This may be the only time, and there may never be an end to your trouble or to your challenges.
It’s all too precious, too fragile, and you never know how much time there is for anyone.