As the days and years tumble by it’s just so easy to take the people we love for granted, thinking that they’ll always be there.
Sitting beside someone recently, who has played a huge part in my life but who is now in deteriorating mental and physical health, my mind kept floating back to all the moments we’d shared over the years. Tiny, insignificant times to anyone else, that make up a lifetime of knowing someone and weaving memories.
But did I ever really stop and tell him how important he was to me? Did I ever actually tell him that I loved him? I’m not sure if I did.
Hopefully he knew and a part of him still knows. And maybe it would have embarrassed him to have heard those words.
The way we always parted, with a hug, was for him to say “Be good” and for me to say back “No, be bad!”
And maybe it’s because I’m getting older and wiser, and maybe because too many of my loved ones have died, that I’ve been having moments of deep appreciation recently, taking people for ‘un-granted’.
I work with people from all over Oxfordshire and beyond, who would give anything to hear their loved ones snoring again or trip over their dirty clothes heaped on the floor. Things that had annoyed them would now be the most precious gifts.
It’s hard when life’s so busy to take a moment and stop and really treasure those we share our lives with while we have the chance.
I know too well how easy it is to think of the hassle involved in driving miles to visit someone, how it will take up a whole day or longer, or thinking there just isn’t the time right now to make that phone call.
But believe me, for any of those I hold close in my heart who have died, I would travel to the ends of the earth just for another moment with them.
There is too, of course, the need to find a balance so that we have enough space just for ourselves. To have times when we leave the phone unanswered or turn down an invitation. And maybe, when our hearts feel content that those people really know how much we love them, we can be at peace with ourselves until we can make the time to give ourselves wholeheartedly to them.
Looking at this treasured photo of my precious friend Ali with me, taken days before she died, I feel pretty sure that she knew how much she was loved. And that brings the blessing of just coping with the grieving, the missing and not a heap of guilt and regrets as well.
How would it be if we made today the day to make sure someone knows we love and treasure them? To find the words to say I love you to someone, as I do right here, to all those precious to me.
So that if we were suddenly torn apart we could hold fast to the comfort that they knew we cared.
To love and cherish with all of our hearts.