Saying I love you.
Sending a quick text message.
Making time for coffee and lunches with friends.
Not waiting around to be asked out.
Picking up the phone just for a quick hello.
Not going to bed angry.
Working things out when you’ve had a fight with someone.
Meeting up with people when you travel near to where they live.
Saying everything there is to say so that you have no regrets.
This is what a beautiful young woman, named Rainey, taught me when she left this world, six years ago today.
I was on a boat in the Virgin Islands.
It was the second to last day so we we were back in the US where I had cellphone service.
I woke up to numerous calls and text messages from my family and my heart sank.
When I heard the news, I screamed uncontrollably from my gut… completely in shock.
It was strange being so far away from my family. I was already divorced at the time, but the desire to be close was primal.
The distance and setting (on a boat with 8 other people on vacation!) forced me to come to terms with it quickly. I did (and that’s a story for another post.)
But the most significant lesson for me in that moment was that I had not talked to her before I left.
I had not send that quick message to say hello or I love you.
I did not pick up the phone to call her and tell her how proud I was of her.
I had not made the time to meet up with her.
So now, I’m a little crazy obsessed about it.
When I travel, I make it a point to reach out to friends that live nearby to try and meet up with them.
Three years ago, before I left for Europe, I made a list of my closest friends and family that I wanted to see before I left.
I sent ridiculous text messages to people apologizing for shit that I had done years in the past.
I made those phone calls that were for no other reason than just to acknowledge someone and tell them how much I loved them.
No, I’m not perfect at this. (hi, Dad who will likely comment to remind me that I don’t call enough — and he’s right: I don’t).
(Hold please… That reminds me I need to send a quick text… Ok, I’m back…)
There are other people in my life that will tell you I’m not good about keeping in touch. It feels impossible to honor this lesson fully, with all people at all times. I still don’t get to spend time with certain people enough (especially during this pandemic).
I get busy with work, family obligations and whatever happens to be right in front of me, and don’t reach out.
For others, I have once per week, or once or twice per month zoom calls scheduled in the calendar. It’s the only way to make sure that it happens on a regular basis.
Social media is not enough, but sometimes, I guess it actually is when seeing one of their posts or even just a simple “like” from someone I care about reminds me of our friendship.
I recently got the courage to send an email to a loved one that had refused to respond to my messages for almost 3 years. The outcome was not what I had hoped for, but at least that person knows that I’m sorry for what happened between us and I love them very much.