As there is birth, there is death daily. Chances are, by now you have loss the physical interactions of loved ones to death. When I was in college, I had a childhood friend who I thought to call but did not make the call because I knew that the next day I would be within her city limits. Yes, this was before cellular plans that expanded the meaning of local calls. Admittedly, I did not want the long distance bill.
The next day having reached her city, but still on the interstate, I thought again to call her. I smiled, knowing that as soon as I got my luggage out of the car hers would be the first call I would make. What I know now, but did not know then is I would never make the call. She died the night before, near the same point on the interstate where I was reminded to call her. Some things you never forget.
She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” —Luke 10:39-40
Over time, I have become conscious about being present when I am in the company of others. I would not be surprised if some of my friends think I have more free time than my calendar would reflect because of how attentive I am with them. Of course, this is easier for me when I have planned time to spend with people, but I try to be consistently like this even in unexpected meetings.
It is easy to be distracted by the busy-ness of life—by the tasks that need to be completed, the calls that need to be made, the emails/texts that need to be sent—that you lose sight of the importance of spending quality time with loved ones who are literally before you. Do not take these people for granted, thinking that they will always be physically there. As the saying goes, “Give me my flowers while I can smell them.” At the same time, remember to , “Give flowers while they can still be smelled.”
There will always be things needing to be done. Do not build attachment to things or an identity to tasks in exchange for losing relationship with people. Some “good byes” are literal.