Today was a life and death sort of day for this little one:
She started taking care of me when I moved into the neighborhood. She kept an eye on my house and kept the bad guys away. She challenged the possums and raccoons that tried to feed on my porch. Most of all, she greeted me when I came home, even before Bread and Butter could. I’m sad she’s gone. I will miss her.
She got me thinking. How differently would we treat one another if we treated each day like a life and death sort of day? Would we cut people we once claimed to love out of our lives? Would we empty our homes of reminders of who they once were? Would we choose jobs and money over friendships? Would we disregard efforts of an old friend to make amends because we felt them hollow? Would we sit quietly and wait for another to reach out? Would we embrace every opportunity to tell someone who matters that they do?
I’ve spent a great deal of the past couple of years sad, angry or timid. I don’t hate the people who hurt me, but I do resent them. I have names I call them in my head and thoughts about the new people in their lives that are less than gracious. The truth is that it doesn’t matter what I think of the people they work with or are now seeing. It only matters what they think. And relationships, new and old, scare me sometimes. I’m crazy about them, but I also find myself playing this game of not wanting to be more attached than I think the other person might be. If he or she leans in, I lean in. If he or she pulls back, I pull back. In my life, I’ve made one major exception and leaned in hard when another pulled back, but that didn’t work out well for me.
Sad, angry or timid. Those are not fun ways to be.
So I have choices to make. Do I try to engage with the people who are important to me? Or do I say there is no point in trying because we’ve all moved on and shown that we can do life without one another just fine? Do I allow myself to engage with people? Or do I let my present state of mistrust stop me from trying?
What would be my preference if he, she, or I were to die tomorrow? Would I wish that we had spoken recently? Would I wish that the last thing I’d said to them or thought about them had been kind? Would I wish I had taken one more opportunity to say, “You are and always will be important to me.”
Those are hard questions when I’ve spent months and years building a wall around the most tender parts of my heart to make sure that no one can get to me in quite the same way. But they are rather simple questions when you look at the porch where a sweet life once sat and see nothing there anymore.
For months, as I watched Baby Girl age, I would approach her timidly. If I saw her curled up on my porch or the walkway leading up to my house and she didn’t move right away, I’d worry. Would this be the day I’d find her dead? Then, when she’d lift her little head, I’d breathe a sigh of relief. It was stressful to worry, and I would sometimes wish for the day that I wouldn’t have that worry anymore so I could approach my home in peace. Today is that day, I guess, and now I’d take another year of that worry over the certainty of her being gone, if I could. I wish I could.
I don’t always handle hard things the way I should. Relationships and friendships – those are sometimes hard things. I want to be someone who chooses love, who errs on the side of love, even if it hurts and even if it’s risky. I don’t think I’m that person right this minute. Right now I’m one who errs on the side of safety. But I’d like to become that person. Soon.