I think it is safe to say that the past year has been tough. Emotions have been all over the place, the sense of loss has never been far from my mind. I’ve done a pretty good job (I think) of holding it together whilst in public, but the reality is that I really miss my parents. It is often said that we don’t realise what we have until its gone, and I can confirm that this is very much the case with parents. I know that regardless of the amount of time I had spent with them, learning from them and just being in their presence it would still not have been enough, but I still wish that I had spent more time with them.
I have found that it is only since they are gone that I am finding out about things that I wish I had had the opportunity to ask them more about it. I hate the fact that much of what I now know about my parents is a result of the memories of others rather than my own memories of them.
I recently had the opportunity to travel to town where I grew up (at least for the first 10 years). The plan was to try and find some emotional closure, by visiting people and places that held a memory of one or both of my parents. After the turmoil of emotions that the last year has brought, I felt that I would benefit from being there again, talking to people about mum and dad, and immersing myself in the places that they called home.
I found myself sitting outside childhood homes, churches, schools and even chip shops. I found myself searching for the memory that would allow me to move on. What surprised me was I found very little emotion in these places. The memories were free flowing, but there was no emotion.
It was different though when I visited with people from the past. People that remembered mum and dad (and my sisters and I) were full of stories and memories. These memories brought life back into the pictures that I had in my mind. It was wonderful to worship in the building that I had left as an 18yr old but was so much more special to worship with some of the people that had been there back then. We have all changed and our expression of our journey may be different, but the God who holds it and us all together was very much there in the midst of us.
The bible tells us that we shouldn’t “give up the practice of meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.” I know that this guidance is for those that claim to following Christ, but have little time for His people, but I believe it applies to simply keeping in touch and doing life with those that are important to us too. I’ve never been very good at writing letters (the examples I have found amongst my parents ‘memories’ box is testament to that) so I am really grateful for the advent of social media that allows me to reconnect with people that I had previously lost touch with. Its not without its limitations though, and there is nothing quite like meeting someone face to face.
I suppose what I trying to say (and remember that the purpose of this blog is so I can process thoughts, and isn’t a final say on the subject) that “doing life” with people is really important. Places will still be there decades later. Those we love may not be. Take time to talk. Take time just to be with them. Learn from them, laugh with them, cry with them. As much as it depends on you, don’t lose touch. People matter.
I am thankful that I was able to take this trip. Some boxes have been closed forever. Some have been closed, and will be opened again at some point, hopefully with others present. What I find most interesting, is that I have found some boxes that I didn’t know were there, and now I have looked in them I want to keep them open.
I pray that you will find peace as you process the boxes in your life.