A friend of the family was hit by a drunk driver and killed a bit ago. Apparently it was a hit and run, not sure of all the details. I got a wake up call, quite literally, from my dad at 6:30 this morning. The only reason I answered it was because he’s out of the country right now and I don’t have a call back number. But after asking how everybody was, he asked me if I had heard (the family friend lives in Texas) had died. I went from barely conscious to quite awake in no time flat. We become desensitized to these things, but when it’s someone you know, however casually, it’s a shock. And even though I didn’t know Steve very well, he was a close friend of my father. What struck me most was how stunned my father was. He mentioned several times that Steve had called him a couple of times, and he hadn’t had the chance to call him back. His voice was so full of regret, remorse and self-recrimination and I felt sorry for him. Steve was a close friend, yet his busy life got the best of him. Life is so brief, such a whisper in the wind, and we tend to live like it’s all we have. What regrets would Steve have had? That’s hard to know – it’s a moot point in any case. But what regrets do his ex-wife and his two kids now bear? What promises unfulfilled, what words unsaid, or wish were unsaid? And good friends, like my dad, what “what ifs” are still floating around in their minds, weighing them down with guilt?
It’s a reflection for me, especially that regret my dad for not calling back. We’ve become so busy in our society, we forget to have time for each other. “I’ll call later” turns into, “I was so busy, I forgot.” We do ‘things’, these activities, and they seem to take precedence over our relationships with each other. But if we were to put a pause button on our lives and look them over, what lasting moments would we find? How often did we choose things eternal over things temporal? What do we value, and how does that show up in our choices in how we govern and spend our time? For me, just being utterly transparent at the moment, I have a deep hunger for true, strong relationships and community, and I keep knocking my head against the busyness that seems to be a high value right now. It’s so hard when everything around us wants 48 hours out of our 24-hour day. But when someone is suddenly gone from my life, or at the end of my own, whenever that may be, the last thing I want on my heart and mind is regrets about how I just didn’t make enough time for those I love and care about.
This life is short, and so temporary – love hard.