I find a distinct peacefulness whenever I am near the water. Oceans, lakes, rivers or streams provide me with a respite that is much different from the mountains, flatlands or the desert. Despite the beauty of the earth, I am ultimately drawn to bodies of water. For many years I have lived in the desert or the flatlands. With my travels significantly curtailed, I’ve not enjoyed the sound of waves or the feel of mist on my skin from ocean breezes. This might explain why I was overcome with emotion while crossing a bridge in Annapolis, Maryland on my recent visit. It almost seemed as if I’d been ushered into paradise, but my friends and I were simply on our way to an early dinner. The view of the water was breathtaking. Dining al fresco in the company of cherished friends while the waves played in the background was exactly what I needed. Scrumptious food, stimulating conversation and comfort of friendship provided me with the safe environment I needed to explore my frazzled emotions.
It had been a difficult summer. The loss of five loved ones in my life circle in a two month period threatened the stability of my inner peace. I was trying to hold it together for everyone that might need encouragement…including me. Although none of the people that had passed away were from my immediate family, they were all intricately woven into the relational threads of my life. Every one of them had influenced me. My heart was broken for their family members. I felt a bit of their pain. Losing them caused me to question how would, or could I prepare myself for the loss of my immediate family members. Did I dare grieve in advance for the reality of the losses that I would suffer? I was fairly resolute about the inevitability of death but I wasn’t as comfortable with how I was treating certain aspects of my life.
The events of those two months prompted me to do some serious examinations of how I care for my personal relationships. Living life can often allow you to neglect the people who aren’t in your daily, weekly, monthly space. I’d been guilty of that. The first person I lost was a friend since first grade. We hadn’t spoken in years but when my sister informed me of my friend’s diagnosis, I got her phone number and reached out to her. I was blessed to reconnect with her. We shared great memories, laughs, prayers and tears in the following months. Our text messages and conversations were both a comfort and wake-up call to me. I was comforted by the knowledge that in her final days she told her children that she was thrilled that we were able to renew our friendship. This was my wake-up call to the fact that life is fragile and tomorrow is not promised. The subsequent deaths reinforced an uncomfortable sense of urgency to pay greater attention to the care of my relationships.
While driving over the Old South River bridge in route to Mike’s Crab House for an early dinner, the beauty of the water and the promise of delicious food was enhanced by the company of two girlfriends I hadn’t seen in nearly ten years. My tears were an outward expression of gratitude for the gift of being in my favorite environment with two of my favorite people. In suffering loss I’d been allowed another chance at becoming a more present friend. My peace was being restored as I began paying closer attention to my relationships.