“When evaluating your life, ask yourself how much have you loved……if you can answer pretty positively you are doing alright.” This quote from Robin Williams, posted by loved ones on the morning after his death is especially poignant following the week I have just lived.
Last Wednesday, as I returned from a fun afternoon in NYC I got a text alerting me that the father of a childhood friend had passed away suddenly. He was a fine man, not someone I knew well but he was my friend’s DAD. My friend, a guy who had been such an important part of my teenage years; a friend who still remains so special despite the many candles that now litter our birthday cakes.
It hit me hard. It was strange because I did not know his dad well but it symbolized so much more. My friend had lost his father, a man the age of my parents. Reality hit. We are beginning to lose our parents, we are becoming the next generation. Although most of us have been parents for over a decade we are becoming “the grown-ups”, the older people.
How can that be? Weren’t we just “cruising around” drinking beer, taking risks, exploring all the world had to offer? I swear we were just getting our driver’s license, graduating high school and deciding on careers. Suddenly I was so aware of the years that had passed and although my life today is incredibly blessed, I found myself mourning not only the death of a kind man but the loss of our youth; a place we could visit through memories and photos of days gone by BUT a place we clearly could never return to again.
I went into support mode. I sent food, I phoned out of town friends and I made plans to attend the services. As I stood on line for the wake I felt as if I was a patron at the theatre as I watched my past parade before me. There I saw old neighbors, classmates, people I knew “before.” It was a strange sensation as memories I had long forgotten began crashing through my mind, tugging at my heart strings reminding me how long ago yesterday was.
On the morning of the funeral I found myself unexplainably nervous. While getting ready I chuckled as I applied my eye cream, now truly realizing I was no longer that 16 year old girl I had been visiting with in my memories, but a middle aged mom trying daily to juggle all the blessings that God had bestowed upon me. I plucked a few gray hairs, (another sign of my growing age), packed my reading glasses and I was ready for the service.
Entering the church was like walking into a strange boardwalk funhouse. There I greeted colleagues and neighbors but I also observed friends I knew “back then” and the ghosts of love interests I had long forgotten. My worlds were colliding, intersecting in the weirdest of ways.
The day was sad as funerals are, but there was something else. I felt my heart filling up as reflected. Here I was surrounded by people from so many parts of my life. These were the people who count, the people I can call despite the years that have passed and they will be there. These are people I LOVE and who love me back. Not the romantic love of those teenage years gone by but the true friendship love that comes from shared memories, life experiences and mutual respect. It made me think, (A LOT), of my favorite movie, The Big Chill where college friends gather at a funeral for a friend. They too are reflective of the love they share as friends and what a treasure it is.
How much have I loved you ask? I’ve loved A LOT and I am blessed to have been loved right back! As I sit reflecting on my middle age life which is not filled with extraordinary wealth, beach homes or fancy cars but the blessings of a great family and wonderful friends, I can easily answer the question posed by Robin Williams…I have loved a lot and I am definitely doing alright!