Catch Up on Undone Love
The time has finally come. Today is the day to catch up on love. Every time we miss an opportunity to show and tell people how much they mean to us, we start stacking up the "woulda/coulda/shouldas". You know the feeling. You owe someone that you care about a phone call for so long that it becomes hard to call them because you feel bad for not having already called them. Most of us understand that nagging cycle.
That is the cycle of Undone Love. It scuffs up the soul until it needs a good scrub.
I had a friend who moved to Hawaii. Her name was Becca. This was all in the pre-internet days, when everyone wrote letters. She and I kept in touch. Then one day I got a letter from her saying that she had breast cancer. I wrote back; she replied. She was worried about her husband and baby. I was just -- I don't know -- too young maybe to realize that I should not have waited to reply. She was so vital, so strong. We were both in our late 20's. I didn't "get" the urgency. And I didn't know what to say. Weeks went by. Before I made the time to write back, she died. And I had missed my final earthly opportunity to tell her of my love for her and our friendship or to comfort her. Oh, I know she knew on some level, but I could have been a far better friend, knowing what I know now.
I'm not the only person in the world to whom this has happened. Funeral homes are filled with crying relatives and friends who say "I never told him that I loved him," or "I never got around to (fill in the blank) with her before it was too late." Moments like that just scuff up our souls even more.
Many people, occasionally children, do not know how much they are cared about, because they haven't been told -- or haven't been told and shown enough. The sentences that drive me batty are: "But he should know I love him. He shouldn't have to be told," or "I don't say it. I show it," or "I shouldn't have to tell her." Well, here is the soul's best advice: Tell them.
Or, you may have been promising to take little Sally and Jack to the zoo, just the three of you for a day of fun. Or you may have meant to spend time with that elderly neighbor whose family lives so far away. But the days go by and the possibility gets lost in the arc of so many other things that really, honestly need to be done. It becomes so much more undone love, becoming even more of a burden because of your guilt about it. It is an event that is just that far out of your reach, even though you want it, too.
Here is what we all need to do.
Catch up with it. Make room for it. Ditch the guilt; plow through, and just do what we mean to do. We will feel fabulous for having done it.
It is high time we prettied up our souls by getting rid of all those undone love messages that mess it up.
Think for moment. If you are like everyone else on this planet, you can come up with a list of people you need to be in touch with, friendships that may have slipped under the radar over time, loved ones who need a call, or a hug, or an email, or a visit, or a kettle of soup. You may know someone who is alone whom you have not contacted for a while. There may be a friend with whom you have slipped out of touch for no apparent reason other than time. It's time to break the inertia, ditch the guilt and express your love.
I spoke to my mother the day before she died. Her death was sudden, unexpected and devastatingly sad. The last afternoon we spoke, we spent some happy time talking about how much we loved each other. We were never shy about that. In fact once in a while I would pick up the phone and hear her saying "Hey -- have I told you lately that I love you?" (That song took on extra meaning after she passed.) But the point is, when she did pass, I had no unspoken messages of love. I grieved her like crazy, but I did so with no regrets. We loved each other and we knew it without doubt or hesitation. That was quite a miraculous comfort to me. It makes me want to recommend catching up with undone love all over the place.
So roughly once a month I'll sit down and think about whom I should be re-contacting, or who might not have been reminded of my love for them or who needs a visit, or a hug, some encouragement,some time. Then I take action -- either with words or deeds or both. It's like getting out the soul-polish and having a good scrub.
A sincere word or action of love can make the giver even more beautiful. When I look back at my life, the people I regard as the most beautiful were the ones who were also the most giving, the most loving. Expressed love, expressed compassion, expressed kindness -- these are powerful and transformational.
We never know when a simple word, or a gentle moment spent can change a life. And that ripples on. That life can change another. And so the whole world can change for the better from the fact that we sat quietly, took a deep breath, and caught up on Undone Love.
What acts of Undone Love can you catch up on this week?
~~ Contributing Editor, Mata H. also blogs right along at Time's Fool