When I was at the grocery store tonight I saw a woman who looked so much like my former late mother-in-law that I nearly rammed my shopping cart into the dairy section. To her credit, she said ‘Hi’ even though I’m sure I was staring at her in a pretty scary way.
So many people have come in and out of my life. It’s staggering, really. I’ve lived in six different states and a foreign country and have met surely hundreds, possibly thousands of people. Occasionally I will try to find one of them on Facebook, or they will reach out to me, or like today, something will remind me of them.
Some were kids I grew up with, kids I went to grade school, middle school, high school, or college with, some were teachers, 4-H leaders, friends of my parents. Some were mere acquaintances, people I met at an event, or social gathering, some were neighbors, some were friends of a spouse, some were somehow connected to me through my kids. Some were co-workers, some were people I met while networking, some were Customers. Some were people I dearly loved but lost touch with, or some event caused our relationship to fracture, or we just moved away from each other.
While I’ve sometimes succeeded at finding people on Facebook, typically, there was just enough of a connection for our relationship to have meaning at that one point in time, and not enough to continue beyond, “Hey, what have you been up to the last 20 or so years?” “Okay, well that’s great! Oh me? Well, my life has been perfect, ha, ha, good talking to you!”
But there are others that I wistfully miss, that I know I would connect with again if our paths ever cross. There are some whose absence has left an ache, much like what I felt today in the grocery store.
There’s a certain amount of risk to opening up and loving people, and there have been times in my life when I’ve been determined not to care about anyone again, not to open myself up to being hurt, to do anything to avoid feeling that loss. I don’t think that’s how we’re created to be, though. We long for community, to connect with others, to have someone to laugh with, to cry with, to just spend time with.
I consider myself extremely blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life today, people who listen to me, talk to me, watch out for me, give me wise counsel. Little tiny people who hug me with their sticky hands and call me ‘G.’ These relationships are what make it possible to bear the ache of the ones I’ve lost.