Unlike most of the posts I’ve done recently, this one has very little to do with fitness, diet and exercise! Recent events have left me considering some deeper thoughts that I thought I’d share here.
This week I did something very uncharacteristic. On the spur of the moment, I took a few days off to go visit a childhood friend and her family who were vacationing in the Outer Banks. Hunter and I drove the 4 hours to Corolla, NC early Monday morning. I don’t think I’ve ever done such a long trip by myself with Hunter! He did pretty well in the car with the iPad along for company.
Dom moved to Rome New York (where I grew up) when I was in first grade. My teacher assigned me to show her around and we became best friends. Her dad was in the Air Force, and in third grade I was heartbroken when he was reassigned to Langley AFB in Virginia. Although they moved away, our families had become friends and we visited back and forth a few times. We kept in touch over the years as she moved to England, then back to the US for college and grad school. One summer during college I did an internship at Penn where she was doing her nursing degree and we had a chance to get together in person. She was in my wedding and we last saw each other at my sisters’ wedding six years ago where she met my daughter. Now she has daughters of her own bookending my son’s age and we keep in touch on Facebook.
Although they’ve been vacationing in the Outer Banks for five years now. it’s never quite worked out to get together. But the recent loss of another childhood friend we both knew has led me to think more deeply about seizing these rare opportunities to reconnect. Sometimes due to time and scheduling, it just isn’t possible to do even when you really want to. But in the month before my other friend passed away, I thought of him at least twice with fondness and wondered how he was doing. When I remembered his nickname for our biology teacher, when I saw our picture in high school photo album, I should have taken a moment to drop him a line and say I was thinking of him. I deeply regret not reaching out.
I know that it’s really challenging for introverts like me to maintain all the connections we’ve made over the years while new ones constantly come into our lives. Sometimes it’s all we can do to handle the daily to-do list and weekend tasks. We’re left with little capacity for maintaining other connections or tackling new projects. Then at some point, something gives and we acquire a little bit more capacity to add something new or perhaps return to something old. Once in a while, a tragedy happens to remind us that life is fragile and fleeting. Some chances will pass without us taking them.
I know that I have learned from more than one situation recently that even in the midst of great tragedy and sorrow, there can be hope and learning. It is a reminder to me that I should strive to do what I can to create and maintain important connections and learn from what life throws at me. Sometimes I will feel like I have the energy and sometimes not. But I don’t have to do anything perfectly. Just reaching out in whatever way I have the time and energy to do is enough.