The recent and unexpected death of Robin Williams reminded me again of the preciousness of life. Every minute/moment counts. Don’t take it for granted. I feel for him and the fear and pain he must’ve been in. I feel for his family and wonder what their last moments with him were like. Was their last conversation one of love & laughter or something else? This reminded me of my own experience with unexpected death.
When I was a college Freshman, I met a guy who became my best friend. We shared a lot of time and stories together. We were close like brother and sister even setting each other up on dates. We could make each other laugh so easily, cheer each other up, have easy fun or be completely serious with each other. Then towards the end of our Spring semester we dipped our toes in the “more than friends pool”, hooking up a couple of times. It happened and felt very natural, passionate. My own immaturity and insecurity kept me from dealing with this aspect of our relationship. He tried to talk to me about it. I did my best to ignore it keeping us in the “friends zone”. And then summer came. He went home to Chicago and I went home to Charlotte. We stayed in touch speaking on the phone. I loved our conversations from serious to silly to sports to anything. While apart I began to deal with what was going on in my heart. I admitted to myself I had feelings for him that went beyond friendship. I was trying to find the words and the courage to talk to him about my feelings. One day we were on the phone and had an argument. When we hung up, our disagreement was unresolved. It wasn’t a friend ending argument, just a disagreement that I’m sure we both thought time and space would allow us to cool off and resolve it later.
That night my friend went out. While he was out the car he was in was hit by a drunk driver and he died. I still get tears in my eyes and choked up thinking about it. I couldn’t believe it when I heard what had happened. Our disagreement remain unresolved forever and I never told him how I felt about him. I know he knew I loved him, as a friend. Who knows. He may not have returned my feelings or he might have. I’ll never know because I was caught up in my own fear and insecurity to take a chance. And that day we argued, I cannot even tell you what it was about. I’ve lived with that loss for a large part of my life. College was not the same when I returned. I tried to numb my feelings through my bulimia, drinking, hooking up with other guys. And in the end, I transferred schools trying to escape my feelings. It was years before I could talk about and think about him honestly dealing with my feelings instead of “acting” normal.
What I learned is EVERY moment is precious. Those things that seem so important when we argue about them are, as my Dad says, “dust on a peanut”. Even the days we disagree, I cannot leave the house or go to bed without Marc knowing how much I love him. The same holds true for our son, Eli, and all of my loved ones. I don’t ever want to be in a position of words and feelings of love unsaid or disagreements being the final conversation.
How do you do this when a loved one pisses you off, pushes your buttons, even unintentionally hurts your feelings?
5 Quick Tips for living a happier life (BRAFS):
1) BREATHE, deep belly breathing to help clear the “fight/flight” cave man/big brain reaction that is occurring within you.
2) REMEMBER, you love each other. Focus on that love. Give each other the benefit of the doubt. Seek first to understand. Keep Breathing.
3) ALLOW each other space and time to process feelings, behaviors, etc. We each have our own unique amount of time needed to process, understand and move forward from any situation in our life. Give yourself and your loved ones this processing time. And Keep Breathing.
4) FORGIVE yourself for any big reactions, you are normal and that means NOT PERFECT. Forgive your loved one for their reactions, they are normal and NOT PERFECT. Forgiveness is for yourself. Carrying around anger eats you up inside, comes out in your tone and conversations with others and comes across as if you wear it like a suit. It acts as repellent to many and attracts negativity and fear. And yes, KEEP BREATHING.
5) SAY, “I love you” sincerely when you part to give each other space, even if you are angry or hurt.
I didn’t have the opportunity to follow my own tips with my friend. I still talk to him, his picture or write in my journal to him periodically especially when an experience reminds me of him. I wrote him a letter long ago apologizing for our disagreement, for not having the courage to share my feelings and finally sharing my feelings. I forgave myself. I forgave him too. Now I remember so much happiness, joy and laughter when I think of him and I smile inside my heart. I am grateful for the life lesson he taught me. I don’t take relationships for granted. I don’t hold back and I love large! When I met Marc, he shared deep feelings with me EARLY in our relationship and I felt it too AND I shared mine with him.
I dedicate this post to my friend Ross. Your eyes, heart and smile always shined from the inside out. Thank you for being my friend and for teaching me so much about life. I am grateful for you and love you.
Sharing love with you always,