Friday, July 10, 2009

Nothing lasts forever

The other night my husband got a call from his brother. Josh was finalizing his ticket to fly out from California and stay with us for this upcoming week. I was and am excited, as we don't get a lot of friends and family visiting us often, but the more I thought about it the more sad I got. Not about my brother-in-law visiting (that's fabulous), but that I really miss "my people" back home -- especially my parents.

I feel the older I've gotten, the closer my parents and I have become -- strange as that may seem -- and I always envisioned myself at this age living an hour or two away from them so I could pop by whenever I felt like it (when I wasn't out traveling the world months at a time). Family has become increasingly important to my sappy, sentimental self, who before took my time with the people I cared about for granted, as if we were all going to live forever.

When we moved here and that time was taken away, it truly dawned on me how short life is, and how all we really have at the end of the day are the relationships we cultivate with family and friends. Now I know that three years here in the grand scheme of things is barely a blip in the span of my lifetime, but what cemented this notion was the passing in 2008 of both my family dog, Tiger (who I'd grown up with), and my grandfather, who I regretted not saying "goodbye" to properly the last time I visited him three months before he died. And that's the inherent problem: I didn't know it was the last time I would ever see him again. I didn't know my grandfather as well as I would have liked, and after he passed away I regretted not getting to know him better, always thinking I could do so "later". All I have left are pictures, some 8mm footage of him holding me as a baby and letters/stories he wrote to his parents while fighting in Europe during WWII.

My dad's side of the family, circa Christmas in the 1950s. My grandfather is on
the left, while my dad is seated on the floor next to his sister.

Both my parents are in good health (thankfully), but I notice now when I fly home to visit that they are slowly getting older, which reminds me they aren't going to be around forever. To be completely honest, this freaks me out because I don't want to regret wishing I had spent more time with them as an adult. I've got a younger brother and sister (both in their early 20s), and we've always been a close family traveling through Europe together and doing all the "family" things that families do, but as I said earlier I feel like I'm finding out and understanding new things about my parents that I wasn't perceptive to when I was a teen. I can't believe I'm admitting it publicly but I'm so, so terrified that something horribly unforeseen like a heart attack will suddenly happen to them or other family members, and I won't be there to say goodbye. Perhaps it's the curse of being the oldest child, as my brother and sister think I worry too much, but I can understand where they're coming from. In my early twenties I wasn't thinking about these things either.

My husband pointed out last night that if all goes well, he and I have six more decades. Six decades. That's nothing. A pittance. And that's only if we evade any deadly accidents or diseases. It really put everything into perspective. I guess I just have to get used to the fact that nothing lasts forever and life is fleeting, as hard as that is to come to grips with. We can't be everywhere at once, so as cheesy as it sounds, we must value the time we spend with those we care about. After all, time is the one thing none of us have enough of.


DS said...

You are very right, time goes by so quickly and most of the time we don't even think twice about it because "there's always tomorrow!" I agree it's important to spend time with your loved ones because NOW is truly the only time we have that is certain.

Mandy said...

Wow, we are definitely on the same wavelength. Deja Vu! I live six hours from my family (it used to be about 14 hours away) and I only see them about three times per year. And it's really hard and I get very sad after my visits with them. (I just posted about this tonight before I read your blog, this is sooo weird). Anyway, I understand completely. And you're right, you don't think about these things in your early 20's. I have so much more respect for my parents and family members with my now 30 years of age. As I get older (not necessarily wiser but still older), I truly cherish them (and even find them funny! Imagine that!)

Crystal said...

DS: Exactly! Time is expensive, we need to remember to use it wisely so that we'll never have any regrets.

Mandy: Great minds think alike! Isn't it strange how you grow up through your teens/early 20s being mostly annoyed with your parents, thinking they don't understand you...then you find out later as you move closer to 30 that it was actually YOU who didn't understand THEM? Oh maturity, you're so underrated. ;)

Blog Widget by LinkWithin