Monday, February 20, 2017
What is Important
Yesterday a wonderful man with whom I taught for many years was killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. That's twice in three months that someone from my school has been killed on that road by someone who shouldn't have been driving a car at all. Someone who was angry or depressed or hurt, poured alcohol into their body to stop the pain, then drove down the highway as fast as they could and ended up taking someone else's life, someone driving home from the store, the post office, or a ball game. The absolute randomness of those types of events is difficult to absorb. We make decisions all day long without realizing that those decisions affect the lives of many other people. The death of this good man, John Matousek, was such a loss; such a waste of intellect, compassion and humor. It breaks my heart.
For several months after Danny died, I wouldn't leave the house in the mornings or go to sleep at night without making sure the house was completely straightened up and everything in the bathroom was clean and put away. I was keenly aware that people die in their sleep sometimes and....well, it could happen to me too. I got over that eventually. As anyone who knows me will tell you, my house is a lived in house, not a show house. I usually have things where I can see and lay my hands on them all the time. People come over for supper and make noises about wanting to see the rest of the house but I don't take the bait. They don't need to have a tour of the house, they are there for supper and a visit. I direct them to the bathroom but that is all. What they see on their way there is all they will see. I assume they came to see me, not the house.
My house is too big for me, at this time in my life. When the kids come out for a week-end, it is the perfect size...or maybe even a little small, but the rest of the time it is too large for me. Rarely is the entire house pulled together at the same time. It simply takes too long to do that and there are other things I would rather be doing with my time: reading, writing, walking outdoors, working in the gardens, talking with friends or family.
That's who I am; people can take it or leave it. I am through trying to impress people in any way, shape or form. I was telling a dear friend recently that after you lose someone very close to you, your priorities shift as to what is important.
Relationships matter, connection and honesty and being present to others matter. Whether or not your house is free of clutter or the windows are always washed is not important; so many things are no longer important. I'm speaking for myself here, it might be different for others. Life is unpredictable, completely unpredictable. Oh, you can make a plan for what you would like to have happen, but there is no guarantee any of that will happen for you. You have to be able to roll with the punches, reassess, adjust course and move forward.
And there's this: Do not wait or be hesitant about telling the people you love that you love them, that you appreciate all they do for you, big things as well as small things. When you hug someone goodbye for the day, make it a genuine hug; mean it. It is possible they might never see you again. Things can happen out of the blue.