In the past 11 months I have lost 4 people that I loved. It has been a pretty emotional year. Tonight I should have been home watching television, resting after practice not at a memorial to say goodbye to my dear friend, Gail.
Nothing makes sense, according to my calendar on October 31, 2011 I am supposed to be dropping off my shelves and crafts to Gail at Baldwin Hall. I am still in a bit of shock. I have Gail’s message saved on my cell phone, she asked how Kathryn and Cole were doing, if I am ready for the upcoming craft show and can she borrow my shelves again this year. She ended with she knew I was busy, no rush simply call her back when life slowed down and I had time to talk. I saved her message to remind myself to call her after homecoming and Charlotte’s wedding this weekend. I made the mistake of waiting too long, assuming I had plenty of time to talk and catch up. I believed because I had written a date on my calendar Gail was going to be there. After all she had always been there for the past 27 years, why would this year be different? We had spent the past twenty years in the back room at her craft show as we inventoried crafts in, catching up on the year that had past, laughing, sharing photographs and sometimes even crying over life. This year should have been the same, no one expects their friend to die suddenly. Now sadly the time I had to call Gail is gone. I lost the opportunity to talk to my friend one last time, I allowed today to simply pass away to yesterday. I made the mistake of believing I still had tomorrow to catch up.
Driving home from Gail’s memorial I wondered how many of my friends would make the same mistake I had, believing they still had time with their friends. Tomorrow they would return a phone call, reconnect with an old friend and see how they were doing. They weren’t worried about missing the upcoming reunion because surely everyone would be at the next. How many of my friends believe they still have time to let someone know how important they are, how much they loved them, say thank you. How many will let time pass and never say what should have been said long ago. Then I thought of all my friends who were no longer talking to each other, exes that no longer speak. For one reason or another they cannot allow themselves to forgive. I have often heard, “Eventually I will get over it and forgive them.” When does eventually stop being? I wonder what happens if they wake up tomorrow and the person they refuse to forgive or talk to is no longer there? Their chance to let go and move on is gone? What regrets will they have? There are people who I was excited to reconnect with. I enjoyed our weekly email correspondence when suddenly they stopped writing. When I asked what was wrong I received no response. I tried to discover what mistakes I may have made so I could correct them, apologize. I let them know their silence hurt me, again I received no answer so now I wonder will they carry any regrets when I am gone. The regret I have is never knowing what I did to upset them and never given the opportunity to correct whatever it was.
No matter how much we may want to, we can never get yesterday back. No one is flawless, some relationships end, people make mistakes. We are all wonderfully human, beautifully imperfect. Where a photograph of a person may fit perfectly in a frame of our choosing, friends don’t always conform to the ideas or standards we want them to but that does not make them less worthy of our forgiveness or friendship. In the end why would we ever expect or want anyone to be anything less than fallible? We are who we are, good and/or bad. Perfect people are to say the least boring. Flawed friends are paradisaical, they keep life interesting. We grow as individuals by making mistakes, leaning how to forgive and move forward.
Some times I believe we get so caught up in what has happened or what was said in the past we lose sight of what is truly precious now, time! We allow it to fall through the cracks of life and get away from us. Time we have been blessed with that our friends who have passed would cherish. How many times after a loved one has died have we all wished for one more hug, one more chance to say I love you. What we lose sight of, we no longer have that time with them, they are gone, but we still have it with each other! For now we have time to share together, time to laugh, hug and cry. Most importantly we have time to forgive! We are blessed; we can still feel the sun on face, taste the rain on our lips, feel the wind in our hair and watch the moon rise. Most importantly we have been given the gift of another day with the ones we love. We are the lucky ones, we still have today to enjoy and create memories together with our family and friends; it’s tomorrow that is uncertain. Treasure now don't wait for eventually.
Please remember there are no do overs in life, you can never regain lost time, so make today count, do not allow it to become a yesterday of regret.
Less than twelve hours after I posted this piece I learned Kala Marie Austin was killed in a car crash driving to school. She was just 17 years old. I first met Kala when she was 8 years old and cheering with the Bucs. My dear good friend Patty was her coach. I would often attend Patty's practices to help her with stunts and her routine. I was able to watch Kala grow through cheerleading and Patty's kids. What I remember most about Kala, her big soft eyes. When she gave me that look during practice, I coudln't yell at her, I could only smile and laugh. I use to tease her that I was sure that look had Dad wrapped around her finger. She would smile and agree! Kala wanted to grow up to become a teacher, that was her dream. She was interning through Chesapeake High School at Bodkin Elementary School and in the short month and a half she was there, she touched many lives. She had a caring heart and a gentle soul.
It was hard to say good bye at her funeral, looking at her senior pictures, wondering all she could have been, knowing all she had been. The photograph that touched me most, the one of Kala in her cap and gown. Looking at it, reality sunk deep within me, on graduation day, when all her friends will be celebrating, she will not be there to share in the joy.
Please, forgive, laugh and love because none of us know how long we have on this earth. Never forget to tell the ones you love and care about how much they mean to you.
RIP Kala ....you are loved and will be missed!!