Thursday, December 15, 2011
All I Want For Christmas
This morning I was cleaning out my inbox and perusing old emails. I found an email that I'd sent Timothy four years ago - the first Christmas after John died. It reads: "The Gift of John... There are people who give presents, and then there are people who give gifts. John was a gift giver. He would agonize over what to give people that would be meaningful. Even in death, there are no exceptions to that rule. All of us loved John to our own extent, and were equally so loved by him. In leaving this earth, thoughtful as ever, he did not leave us empty-handed. John left us each other. What began as the camaraderie of shared grief has developed into deep, enduring friendships and relationships between all of us. So, this Christmas, here's to you John, to the gift of you in our lives. Here's to the beauty you brought us, the lessons you taught us, and the continuation, in us, of what was so great about your spirit."
It went right in line of something I was thinking about yesterday, which is always a clear sign that the Universe is tapping me on the shoulder and trying to get my attention.
Yesterday I met a "new" friend for coffee. We've actually been online friends for a couple of years, but earlier this year she moved from the Southwest to within about five miles of my house. We kept saying, "Let's do coffee." But, as often happens with such lines, life kept stepping usurping the actual event. Yesterday we made it happen.
Let me backtrack just a little. I should mention that this past Summer I discovered that I was a bit lonely. It's all Jessica's fault. When she came out to visit, I had so much fun with her that I realized I'd been missing that kind of friendship - someone to just hang around with and talk about everything and nothing. I mean... I'm not lonely lonely. I have Steve and he's my greatest friend (I won't say best, because all my friends are best), and I have friends all over. I just don't have friends that are close by. So, when Jessica left, there was an empty space that was tangible. Since then, I've been thinking that I really need to cultivate some new friends who live a little closer.
All that is to say that when I discovered that Tanya had moved so close by I saw it as an opportunity to turn my thoughts into action. Let me just say that it was an excellent choice. We sat and sipped coffee and talked until we realized that three hours had flown by. It didn't feel new, it felt comfortable. I felt like a five year old telling Steve when he came home, "I made a new friend today!" (I also fell down on the sidewalk, did arts and crafts, and took a nap. Perhaps this is my second childhood.)
As we were talking, we discovered a mutual tendency to keep people from getting too close, from being too important in our lives. And neither of us are good at letting other people take care of us. I told her (and reminded myself) what I discovered when John was sick, when I came to a point where I (we) couldn't make it much further on my rather stubborn brand of self-sufficiency. I had to let people help me in all sorts of ways. I had to let people in. When I did that, I realized that helping made them feel good, no matter the effect it had on me. It gave them purpose, and who was I to deny someone else from being who they needed to be in my life? Who was I to put constraints on their friendship in my life, to say "Your love can go this far, but no farther"?
It sounds silly, but the most difficult challenge I've had in my relationship with Steve is allowing him to do things for me. Slowly, I've realized that when I deny him doing those things, I'm denying him the chance to express his love for me the way he wants to... and needs to.
The people in my life are what I treasure in my life. They are the gifts that keep giving, and I need to graciously accept that... and let them give.