“The next time I see you, it will be at your funeral.” I never thought those words would ever leave my lips when talking about such a young soul, but somehow they were. Though we barely had a relationship, her passing affected me deeply. Maybe it was because she was a fellow Sayreville alum or perhaps it was that she was so young and still had a lot of life to live. Or it could be the fact that despite going to the same schools for a majority of my childhood, I never took the time to get to know who she really was.
Yes, from what I saw she was a sweet and lively individual. But other than a few Facebook messages wishing each other a happy birthday, we had no relationship. And besides her quotes in the high school yearbook and statuses on social networking sites, I didn’t even have a glimmer of her personality or true understanding of who she wanted to be. Honestly, she was like a stranger to me. That’s why the emotion that took over the day I went to her wake surprised me.
There I was crying hysterically over a girl I never took the time to know and couldn’t figure out why. I was always drawn to her but because I never took advantage of the opportunity to become her friend, she remained a mystery. While surrounded by the fallen angel’s closest friends and family, I stood quietly as they reminisced over their favorite memories with her. As silly as it sounds, I was secretly jealous of those who took advantage of their chance to know her. I quickly grew angry with myself upon realizing that other than saying hi as we walked past each other in high school my most intimate memory was a discussion on Facebook about weddings. I beat myself up for not getting closer to her preventing me from having any real intimate memories.
While I drove home that night, the tears wouldn’t stop flowing in mourning the loss. As I thought about that beautiful girl in the casket looking so much different than the girl I remembered but never got to know, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about who it could’ve been. I could have easily been spending the night at the wake for my childhood best friend, my parents, my younger brother or even my husband. It would have killed me if they left so abruptly. It also would have killed me if at their funeral, my most intimate memory would be of a shallow event that happened so long ago. In reality, that’s exactly what could happen.
As I grew older, I had less and less time to spend with loved ones. I’ve been too caught up adjusting to my new home to see parents as much as I should. Adjusting to my new life as a wife has kept me from spending as much time with my brother as I’d like. And building my business has prevented me from bonding with my husband at every opportunity. I’ve let so much time slip away. I know it was foolish because we never know how much time we have left together.
That’s why I was ashamed at how long I wracked my brain figuring out the best Christmas gifts to get my loved ones that fit my budget when the answer was there all along. The best thing I could do is keep it sweet and simple. This year I’m giving my friends and family the promise to make every moment with them count while we build meaningful memories together. They may call me cheap and unimaginative, but at least I’ll know I’ll be there when it matters most.
So this year I challenge you to give a truly priceless gift: the gift of time. It won’t cost you a dime and you can guarantee it will arrive in time from Christmas. (No need to worry last minute shoppers!)
You can waste well deserved money on gifts like DVD’s and iPods. Or you can save your money and give a gift that will truly stand the test of time. It’s about time we make this Christmas and everyday after that count.
What priceless gift would you like to receive this year? Do you make sure you spend enough time with loved ones as much as possible?
TERRIfic Words: Life is a one time offer. Use it well.