21 January 2009

Auld Lang Syne

So, there are not a whole lot of things I regret in my life. There is almost nothing I regret doing, and only slightly more I regret saying. I mostly live life figuring that risk and the possibility of failure and hurt are WAY better than a safe, but very boring existence.

As such, the regrets I do have are the things I didn't do. And one of my biggest regrets is the fact that I really, really suck and keeping in touch with people. It is not that I don't have good intentions (hello, road paving anyone?). I just either get distracted, or busy, or think, 'oh I will wait until I have a chunk of time to reply to this.' And it slips to the second page of my message book or my email box, and then it was so long ago, and on and on. Events nudged me every so often, trying gently to remind me that really, a 5 minute call or quick note now is better than waiting for that 'when you have time' thing. I would get better for a while, then slip back into my old ways.

And then this past fall, the nudges stop. I get a big karmic kick in the teeth. It is not my story, and I don't want to go on, but suffice to say I lost someone this year. The spouse of a close friend, and because, well, neither of us took the time, I did not even know she was sick until I got the message from my friend that his wife was gone. She had been battling cancer for three years. This time, I got the message.

And here is where the risk, and the failure and the hurt come in. Because I decided it may have been a while, or a LONG while, but I am going to write that note, or send an email, or pick up the phone. And sometimes that hurts, because the note gets tossed, the email unanswered, the call, always, seems to hit the voice mail. I know, folks move on, they forget, they do other things. But, despite being a smart alec, and irreverent, I break pretty easy. Okay, really easy. I think the one that hurt the most was the conversation that ended mid stream, with no explanation. That still stings, a month later.

But there are rewards too. The 3 hour phone call with the friend you really did think you had lost, but that had never actually been lost at all. The note you got from a dear friend, telling you how much you have meant to her, that brings tears to your eyes. The other connections you make, friends of friends of friends, and the happy memories they bring back.

So I will keep putting myself out there, I still have a list of folks, people I have not contacted in a long time, that I am thinking about what to say. I won't wait too long this time. I hope that we reconnect.

And I appreciate even more those that reach back, or never lost touch in the first place because they can put up with or overlook my erratic ways. Thank you.

And those voice mails? The notes and emails? That one conversation, stopped mid-stream? All I can say is, for me, friendship does not have an expiration date. A week, a year, 5 years? If you reach back, and I am where you can reach me, I will answer. And I will do it sooner this time. And know too, old friends, no matter what, you are never, ever forgotten.

13 January 2009

Reading is FUNdamental

I have always been a reader. Family lore has it that I learned somewhere around the ripe old age of three, and have had my nose in a book ever since. While my parents were occasionally (okay, frequently) annoyed at the chores I left undone while engrossed in the latest tome, it was a habit they otherwise encouraged.

So, in order to share my favorite hobby, and let you people know how truly strange I am, I started a list in the sidebar, My Last 10 Books. Now, I often read several things at one time. I stash a book downstairs for evening reading, one in the van for carpool waiting or when I sit in the driveway in the interest of two kids getting a nap, and one in my walk in closet for when I can't sleep, but also can't stray too far from the La Leche Leech, lest he wake the household in indignation that his na-nas have wandered off. So I will add books to the list as I finish them.

Oh, by the way, each book listed is a link to Amazon, as it was the easiest thing I could think of. If anyone has a better idea, I am all ears...

Life is What Happens...

...when you are making other plans.

In an instant, a day, your life is turned upside down. Everything that was true about the future, isn't. Everything you have been moving toward disappears. A person you don't know makes a decision, and people that don't care shore it up, because to do otherwise would negate all the premises that built the whole thing, and the whole must be preserved, even at the expense of the truth, and your future.

And yet.

You have your health. Your children. Your family. You find out, truly, who your friends are. Life moves forward, and you with it. And you realize this has happened before, more than once. And that, given that we have free will, this will likely happen again, and again, this side of Heaven.

And also, there is Grace. That flip side to free will. I have never, really, believed in the 'God has a plan for you' line, at least not in the way people mean it. I will not justify the poorly thought, the mistake, the selfish, or the pure evil with 'God has a plan.' I believe that God has a PLAN, that PLAN is his Children in Heaven. That is where the Grace comes in. Not only are we saved from our sin, and our free will, by Grace alone. That Grace includes the strength to move forward, the forgiveness when we fail, the Love of a Father.

A week ago the future was ours, the choices all good. Now there may not be any choices. There is a path, which from here looks more like a long, dark tunnel with little hope of light at the end for a very, very long time. But we will walk it, together, hand in hand. We will carry our children, take strength from our friends and family, and believe with all our heart that God is with us.