“January was a tough year, but we made it.” That seemed to be the general consensus among everyone at the end of last month. January is usually a rough month, with the holidays behind us and spring so far in front. Add in national and world news, and it felt darker than normal. Then, throw in some tragic and/or untimely deaths of family, friends, and famous people who had the world in front of them, and my heart and shoulders felt like they weighed 100 pounds.
The same week of the helicopter crash in Calabasas, I lost a friend from college. We’re not “old;” Brian was 38. The news of his sudden death passed like a ripple and I suddenly found myself connected with disconnected friends I hadn’t spoken with in a while, except through the occasional social media post.
Those particularly hard-hitting deaths all happened during the last week of January, which just happened to also be my last week at VCU. I’d been at VCU as a student or employee for nearly 20 years; more than half of my life. I met Brian my first year at VCU. Leaving VCU was (and still is) the right choice for me and my family, as I go full-time with APP and spend more time at home. But that week it also felt a little like attending my own funeral, as I said goodbye to lots of people I had worked with over the years.
Granted, I can go to campus and see my old colleagues whenever I want; we aren’t moving and I’m only 20 minutes away. But when I return I’m an outsider. We’re not connected the same way we were. I’ve escaped the 8-5 routine and with that comes the freedom to run my own schedule, and also unties a thread from a core group of friends and colleagues. I have to make the conscious effort to find things that connect us. And I’ve been reminded that the same is true for those other disconnected friends and family members. I can say to myself or those around me that I love them and that I care, but if I do nothing to attempt to stay connected, it means nothing.
A reoccurring theme in memorial posts I saw in January was “I hadn’t talked to ____ in a while/years,” accompanied by photos from their lost loved ones’ lives. One friend who lost her sister last month was just thankful for all of the photos that everyone kept sharing of her in their posts and memorials. It was a small comfort, but a comfort nonetheless.
Love is a verb, y’all. Reconnect with those you love, let them know how much you care about them, and remember to take a couple of pictures when you’re together. Life is short and our time is so easily wasted.