2017 was the year I started spontaneously dropping glurgey Hallmark-card lines into conversations, as much to my surprise and bemusement as anybody’s: Family is so precious.
Love ’em while they’re here.
Never pass up a chance to say, “I love you.”
Cherish those special moments, because they’re gone before you know it.
I would say all these things while registering big-eyed disbelief, as though a magician were pulling a knotted chain of handkerchiefs out of my mouth. I can attest that I never went as far as to utter the dreaded, “Dance like nobody’s watching, and love like you’ve never been hurt,” but, damn, I felt its totally emo gravitational tug.
I would say these things to friends and colleagues who were either coping with aging parents or grieving over parents who had died. I said them because my parents died a few years back, and, yeah, for all my largely book-acquired, slightly postured intellectual understanding of death, few talk about that wrenching, total-body, cellular yearning to have someone back.
Our fabulously death-terrified, death-denying culture doesn’t have the greatest vocabularic toolkit to express this, I discovered, so when I tried to say something like the above, Lifetime Network slime like Time with family is a chance to make lifelong memories! came out instead. As anodyne and cliché as such lines seem, they now glimmer with truth. I want this to mean more than merely acknowleding a standard blip of leveling up in the emotional wisdom department, and more than a suggestion that our language of love, gratitude and presence is impoverished of texture and complexity. I suspect it does mean more, I’m just not sure what yet.
But, yeah, if you hear something like “Time has a way of showing us what really matters" drop out of my mouth, what I mean is, like, our corporeal consciousness can best embed meaningful family experiences in long-term memory by purposeful attentiveness to the present!