In my last column, I mentioned that I had been heavily involved in the care of my hospitalized older brother throughout the summer. Sadly for us but a blessing for him, he died on the morning of November 12, and the next day we received word that a beloved cousin in New York had been found dead in his home by his sister. In the span of 24 hours, two people who had been fixtures of my entire life are no longer here, prompting some serious reflection on my part about values, family, and priorities.
I won’t burden you, dear readers, with the results of my musings, but I do want to share with you a central takeaway, which is my message to you this holiday season. It is not profound, and we have all heard it many times before, but this year the truth of it rings much louder to me: Life is short (even when it isn’t). People and relationships are what matter. If there are those in your life from whom you have become estranged or simply drifted away, this is a good time to reach out because if you wait, you may miss your chance.
An old poem I encountered many years ago makes the point as well as it can be made:
Around the corner I have a friend,
In this great city that has no end;
Yet days go by, and weeks rush on,
And before I know it, a year is gone,
And I never see my old friend's face,
For Life is a swift and terrible race.
He knows I like him just as well
As in the days when I rang his bell
And he rang mine. We were younger then,
And now we are busy, tired men:
Tired with playing a foolish game,
Tired with trying to make a name.
"Tomorrow," I say, "I will call on Jim,
Just to show that I'm thinking of him."
But tomorrow comes--and tomorrow goes,
And the distances between us grows and grows.
Around the corner!--yet miles away . . .
"Here's a telegram, sir . . ."
"Jim died today."
And that's what we get, and deserve in the end:
Around the corner, a vanished friend.
“Around the Corner”
By Charles Hanson Towne
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