When you don’t know where to begin I’ve heard it said that you should “just start.” That is what I am doing. Without any planned effort I have avoided writing for several weeks now. I have had many, many thoughts, too many thoughts, lessons, and observations. It is a bit overwhelming. It has felt like I have lived life in slow motion for the past month. Death can do that to you. Since death is something we all experience I feel like I could help others by walking through this season “out loud”. This is not the first death of someone close, someone I’ve loved dearly. My son-in-law died of cancer at age 24. My mom died of Alzheimer’s disease and my mother-in-law died suddenly several years ago. Now just over a month ago, my only sibling, my brother, died. We knew he had terminal cancer since the end of June so his death was not a surprise. We had time to “prepare” whatever that means. I am thankful that after that phone call in late June we all became more purposeful to connect with one another.
Lesson #1 Be more purposeful in all of life. (period)
Why do we wait until someone is leaving their job with you, moving out of the neighborhood or is sick and dying to make that relationship a priority? I realize not every person in your life needs to be your number one priority but there are those that should be. Family is at the top of that list. My brother and I were 6-1/2 years apart in age and have not lived near one another our entire adult lives. That did not allow for us to be very involved in each other’s every day life. That said, we only lived 2-1/2 hours apart for the past 12 years why did we not get together as much before his diagnosis as we did after? We got along fine especially considering that we had some different perspectives on some important issues in life. This is where Lesson #1 runs into Lesson #2. I’ll call it the “Aw now Jody” lesson. When talking with Sam if you reached a moment where he believed you to be a little too radical or close-minded he would say, “Aw now (insert your name here)” and then challenge you to take a step back but he was always willing to keep on talking. That is the lesson. Don’t be so set in your ways that you stay away out of fear of alienating the other person. Often we avoid topics if we believe we will anger or challenge the other person. We need to be willing talk through whatever that challenging topic is with your friend or family. You just might learn something while actually enriching your relationship! The media has done a great job of perpetuating fear and hate by using inflammatory words and making almost everyone look horrible at some point. That is not how real life works. Real life works when people talk with one another. They share their knowledge and experiences. They learn from one another. Some times, probably a lot of times, each person maintains their own opinion but they do it with more grace and deeper convictions because they understand where someone with the opposing opinion is coming from.
In honor of my brother’s gift of building strong relationships through honest communication I will be continuing to share life lessons. I very sincerely hope to prompt you to do the same with the people in your world. If you share some of your experiences on social media you may just encourage someone else to do the same. I firmly believe our world will only improve if we each work on the relationships in our neighborhood.
What are your thoughts on these lessons?
I love Lesson 1, Jody. I learned it when my daughter was ill with cancer. Every day when i get up i thank God for another opportunity to live, and ask Him for help to pay attention and be purposeful about life.
I like your questions and your observations. You make me remember, ponder and think.