The other day I was cleaning out our closet. It was time to do some much needed purging. I decided to gut out everything and go from there. I ended up finding some old cards from a few years ago when my mother passed away. I opened each one and read them again, this time with five years behind me. They were sweet and sympathetic. My Aunt had sent one reminiscing about when she and my mother were teens and very close. Some I kept and others I didn’t. So much for the big purge. In among the cards I found a letter that was written by a childhood friend of the family. Her kids were friends with us when we lived in the old neighbourhood. She and her husband were friends with my parents. We used to visit them at their house after they moved away into a new house. She wrote to say how dismayed she was of my mother’s passing and that she hadn’t realized my mother continued to reside in Chatham. She assumed she had moved in either my brother or myself. She was disappointed she had not made the effort to reconnect. I think she was disappointed neither had my mother. I don’t think it was anyone’s fault that they got disconnected. It was just life.
Kids grow up, graduate, move on to university or not, tragic events unfold, weddings and new houses, new babies, new lives. It’s everything that happens over a lifetime. We get disconnected. We get disjointed and enmeshed in the everyday we forget the connections that were made years ago on a summer’s day when the children were small, who later walked to the bus stop hand-in-hand on frosty fall mornings, caught “all things squirmy and squishy” (her words) and played basketball until nightfall.
Those days get lost in band practices, packed lunches, hockey games and baseball tryouts. People get older, move to other streets or to other towns. They work, they make new friends, they move on to other hobbies, other occupations and other past times without the old acquaintances that have become a part of their past. The present is different. Its fluid and changes with the seasons and the ever-speeding passage of time. We don’t notice the children becoming adults until they are there. We don’t notice our hair changing colour until our hairstylist points it out (while saying loudly WHY ARE YOU NOT COMING HERE MORE OFTEN?! ) we don’t notice the deeper cracks in the sidewalks outside the house, how the maple tree has grown exponentially or how few little children are out playing street hockey these days, until all of that suddenly seeps into our consciousness and we take a look around us with open eyes. And older eyes. How did this happen? When did we get HERE?
I understand her disappointment and dismay. It seems like a sudden about-face of one minute she’s there, the next she’s gone, but really it wasn’t like that. It was a lifetime of being, of living of surviving. The disconnection of relationships is unfortunately, an everyday occurrence that can be prevented if we take the time. Aye there’s the rub. TIME. We never have enough. It flies away so fleetingly. If only we had more time to connect, to say ‘hey’, to reminisce, to support, to actually stop and watch everything grow and change without having to be awoken to its transformation. It’s a difficult dance. Maybe we don’t want to watch because if we do, then we’ll have to admit that we are getting older, life is flying by without us even moving or flinching in this hurricane. Maybe we don’t really want to see the children getting older or the sidewalk cracking or the maple tree growing so big we can’t see across the street, anymore. We’d rather hold on to today, to live in the present, just let me have one more day!
Connections are our lifelines. We crave them, seek them out and some hold dear for a lifetime. Our intentions are for connections to last as long as we take a breath, to be eternal and constant, but sometimes those bonds get weaker and grow more distant, then are suddenly lost in the gale force wind. It’s not wrong. It’s life.
I’m thinking after all of this time, to send her a letter of reply. To let her know I did receive her letter and I did read it and I still have it. That I remember everything she said was true.
Maybe, that could be one little dance in the hurricane.