I was having a moment today as I recalled a memory of my sister.
Almost six years ago, our family was going through photographs of our oldest sister, who had just passed away suddenly from complications of diabetes. As part of the funeral service we were putting together a video pictorial of her life to share within the service. How do you present someone’s life in 30 pictures or less not to mention 3 minutes or less? We laughed and cried sharing our memories of her as we accepted and rejected just the right photographs to use. Ever mindful, although she was gone, of the ones she would have rejected herself if she were choosing them. It was almost laughable, but we wanted to honor her, even though she couldn’t have done a thing about it if we had chosen a funky one.
With pictures selected, we submitted them to the hosting church and they created, for the family, a beautiful pictorial displaying her life to the tune of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, her favorite song. Not the Judy Garland version, but a fun, reggae version that she loved. As the service commenced along with all the elements, it was time for the pictorial and I was not prepared for the impact on my heart and wept all the way through it.
Those present perhaps may have assumed I was simply shaken up over her death. And that assumption would have been accurate, but a deeper loss than just her being gone was being experienced in my soul and that was the loss of her while she still lived. You see, with each picture that came floating by I noticed her hair, her hands, the dress she wore, the emptiness of her eyes and I grieved over the fact that I had never really SEEN her while she lived. I took for granted every glance, every laugh, every movement of her body. Oh yes, I loved my sister, to be sure, but had I really taken the time and energy to really engage her on a deeper level of really seeing her and taking her in?
When our children are born, we mothers do one thing before we do anything else. The nurse has washed them and taken such good care to swaddle them and present them to us a perfect bundle of joy. And then what do we do? We unsaddle, throwing blankets aside, unsnapping onesies and diapers and taking t-shirts off of them, why? Because we want to SEE them. And it’s not just to check and make sure all their fingers and toes are there, but because we want to absorb them and take them in. Into what? Into ourselves! We are consuming them in an intimate way to KNOW them. They are a wonder to us and so we commence knowing them by truly looking at them and into them.
We watch them sleep when they are young and older, truly taking in the magnificence of who they are. Slowly though, the wonder wears away and we begin to take them for granted. We do this with all our relationships at one time or another, so there is no guilt to be felt, but a simple realization that hits us when we experience the loss of them. Whether it’s a child going off to college or moving out, or a loved one who has passed on, we suddenly face the reality, that we will only see them here and there or in photographs, memories or the face of a child or grandchild.
These are, indeed, sorrowful moments but they are also sober reminders to take the loves that remain and give them our full attention. Really see them. Touch them. And take them in.
I have grown children and I thought about this today, that I can’t remember the last time I took them by the hand and just held their hand. Looked at it, felt it to really see them. Or looked at them when they talked. Noticed the laugh lines in their face or the scars on their body. I am not being morbid or sensual, but I realize as I grow older that there is not much time left to notice these things. And to give those I love the gift of truly seeing them.
To really find out what makes them happy, sad or angry. What are their dreams? Disappointments? I realize that I haven’t been paying very close attention and if all of us were honest, we could all confess that.
So let this moment be a reminder to us that our loves are alive and vital to the beauty and glory of our souls and to miss out on them, to miss really see them and taking them in to ourselves should be a loss we never hope to bear.
Let Christ be glorified in all!