In our fast-paced, instant gratification society, it is so easy to get distracted from the things that really matter. Even though my faith, my family, and my friends are the most important thing to me, I'm guilty myself of getting swept up & letting too much time go by between visits or phone calls.
Yesterday was a really hard day for me and forced me to realize this in a way I couldn't ignore. I attended a memorial service for my uncle (great-uncle on my mom's side of the family). He'd been ill (severe lung issues) for a while now and said he wanted his heart to just stop. He didn't want to struggle for air. When it was his time to go, he wanted it over with quickly. God granted his wish. His heart gave out while at home. Knowing that his suffering was over and he died that way he wanted was reassuring to me.
A long time ago, I read that grief is selfish. We aren't grieving because our loved ones have been called over, but because they are no longer with us. That really resonated with me – grief is selfish, but I'm okay with being selfish in that circumstance. Today, I'm grieving because my children never had the opportunity to create memories with my uncle. Because they will never get to see the old cars he loved so much. Because I didn't make time to create more memories with him. Because I hadn't even seen him in at least 5 years. Because I haven't made time to stay as close to the rest of our family as I should have over the years. Because my cousin lost her father and losing a parent SUCKS (her words that my mother firmly agreed with). I'm grieving for opportunities with him I've lost and for what I've neglected – my family relationships.
During his service, the pastor read a letter my uncle wrote for our family titled “I Want”. In it, he said he wants us to clear up any disagreements we had and come together. He wants us to overcome any issues we've had in the past that have split our family apart and spend time together. He wants us to make time for each other and strengthen our family bond.
I cried because he's right. Family is too important to neglect. There are no excuses that justify going years without talking to your cousins and even longer without seeing that. There is no excuse for missing so many family gatherings & weddings. I only wish that I would have realized this before he was gone.
After I got home, I spent time with my sons and thought about my family memories. I remember hanging out in the garage and listening to the guys talk cars. I never understood anything they said (I'm the girl that barely remembers to check my fluids!) but I understood it was something they were passionate about & could listen to them talk forever. They instilled a love for classic cars in me without even trying and to this day, I point out any classics I see to my boys. I remember playing in my aunt's backyard with all of my cousins for hours while our parents hung out in the house, the garage, and on the patio. I remember going to my great-grandmas and running wild in the yard. I have fond memories of time spent riding dirt bikes with some of my cousins who later moved out of state & I rarely talk to because it takes TIME and effort, which I normally spend doing other things that I don't NEED to do.
Starting RIGHT now, that is changing. Instead of surfing the internet when we take a break from homeschooling, I'm going to take a few minutes to message a cousin & see how everything is going. Instead of saving all my pictures as private online, I'm going to make most of them available to my family & actually print off some to send to my grandparents (I'm sorry I've been terrible about that G'ma) a few times a year. Instead of wishing Happy Birthday on Facebook to everyone, I'm actually going to use my address book & let the kids help me make out birthday cards. I'm going to MAKE time to go visit my cousins that live in state and get to know their children. Most importantly, I'm going to make sure I don't rob my children of the chance to create some wonderful memories and build strong family bonds to help them through difficult times. After all, families may fight but when it comes down to it, family are the only ones that will always be there for you.
Please, learn from my mistakes. Pick up the phone and call that cousin you used to spend time with before life got so crazy. Get on Facebook and send a message to your family letting them know how much you miss getting together. Clear up any disagreements and make a plan to spend time together. Make that effort and you won't regret it, but if you don't MAKE time now, you may find yourself grieving for those memories missed.
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