As unsociable as I am, I make it a point to attend the birthday party of an even more unsociable (but close) friend Patty. This started about 10 years ago when Patty put together a list of friends she wanted at her funeral. It then dawned on her that she should be keeping in touch with these people while she is still kicking and alive. Why wait for the funeral?
My sister in law who knows that I love food always promises over family dinners that she will buy my favorite food to pray to me after I have died. I ignored this most of the time until I cracked one day and told her off — “Why not get me the food now? Why wait until after I died and when I can’t enjoy it any longer?”
I know how much my friend Lisa loves her husband Ben. She tells me so very often, often with tears welling in her eyes, how she will be devastated if she ever loses him. Yet, despite this she has fights with him all the time and she will not think twice of skipping an appointment with him to go for some other more frivolous engagement.
I still question the irony and feel disconcerted how so many of us will only show tenderness and love only when it is imminent that we will lose that loved one.
I asked her what she would do if she knew that Ben only had a month to live? Lisa said “I will love him to pieces.” I pressed on — “How?” “I will be more loving to him. I will make a special effort to make him his favorite breakfast everyday instead of putting out the convenient cereal and milk. I will make it a point not fight with him. I will remind myself of all the goodness in him and not dwell on his shortcomings” And so the “love” list went on. It seems uncanny to me that Lisa will only be nice to Ben only if he is dying. I then asked her what she would do if Ben died on her without giving her the opportunity to express her “farewell love”.
The answer is obvious Lisa thanked me sincerely a few days later and told me how I have helped her remind herself constantly of the real threat of losing Ben. Every time she gets mad at him and on the urge of spitting out mean words at him, she will soften and found that over time, Ben responds well to her new approach and they have a more loving relationship since I met Lisa and Ben recently and it is evident in their faces that they are really happy now.