relationships matter

UPDATE ON RELATIONSHIPS: I just learned that my friend Reggie Watkins died of COVID-19 and that my friend Ray Benson is terribly sick with this awful virus. That news makes this week’s blog post more timely than ever. Please, read on…

My friend Roger is 87. He’s in great shape, both mentally and physically. Before the pandemic hit, I saw him nearly every week. We had a great relationship. We would occasionally sit on his deck and enjoy cigars and bourbon while my coonhound Sam sniffed around Roger’s backyard. I love our conversations and hearing his insights from nine decades of living. I especially like how he challenges my thinking.

Roger lives by himself. He has family in the area who are very attentive to his needs and care for him deeply.

Since the coronavirus made its appearance, Roger and I aren’t able to see each other like we used to. I miss our get-togethers. We speak frequently on the phone, which is enjoyable, but certainly not the same as getting together in-person.

During a recent conversation, Roger expressed frustration at not being able to go out due to the current practice of social isolation. He explained that he wasn’t concerned about getting Covid-19 at his age, but that he certainly didn’t want to take a chance on spreading the virus. I commented that I didn’t want him to get sick, that I value our conversations and our friendship, and that I would miss him terribly if he were gone. I also stole Jack Nicholson’s line from the film As Good As It Gets and told Roger that knowing him helps me be a better human. Roger replied that no one had ever told him that before, not even his family. I assured him that some people find it difficult to express such feelings, but that they show their love through their actions and by their caring.

I get that completely. I grew up in a solid and loving Midwestern family that was also a little stoic. We just didn’t say “I love you”. We certainly loved each other and that was evident from the way we took care of each other in good times and bad; we just didn’t say those words.

Now, the harsh and fatal reality of Covid-19 is apparent in the deaths of both regular folks and celebrities including Joe Diffie, Terrence McNally, Mark Blum, and others. It’s a scary time for all of us and it’s a time to let the important people in your life know they’re important to you. Relationships matter now more than ever. Your opportunity to do that may be gone in a week. In the shadows of our lives, there is light in the lessons we learn. May one of the lights in the shadow of Covid-19 could be the lesson to lift others up by the words we say. Our words, positive or negative, have great power. Let your words be a positive force in the lives of everyone you touch. Make that phone call. Let someone know how important they are to you or mend a broken bridge. Relationships matter.

In Hindu traditions, the Sanskrit word namaste means the sacred in me honors the sacred in you. I come from a Christian tradition in which we pass the peace of Christ. My wish for you is that your words honor the sacred in others and that you pass a deep abiding peace to everyone in your life.

You are important to me. I’m so thankful you’ve welcomed me into your life. You have great value. Your life makes a difference and is important. Namaste and may the peace of Christ be with you.

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