You know what people regret at the end of their lives? Not expressing their feelings or staying in touch with their friends, are in the top five. Google that. What about when someone you know and love is nearing their end? What will you regret about them?
A woman I know and love, who loved my family back is nearing the end of her life. I haven't stayed in constant contact with her but I've been following her journey via social media and I am thrilled when I hear something from her or about her. The news that she was moving into hospice wasn't what I wanted to hear. Immediately, I decided I needed to write her a note and thank her for her gift, her singing, and for being so genuine and real. I want to thank her for being a part of what I love most about New Orleans.
Leigh Harris, Lil' Queenie, is a superstar singer and one of the most talented musicians I know. She sang on two of my husband's CDs along with countless other projects of her own and her talent is undeniable. Like, chills on your arm hairs kind of talent. She was one of the first people I met here and her warmth has stayed with me since. In our early marriage, date nights were a necessary thing. Having no family members in town and a cranky baby meant finding a sitter was a struggle. Leigh happily took my daughter into her home and rocked her while my husband and I made some time for each other. I am eternally grateful for her willingness to let us be a couple for those brief moments, even when our baby would cry relentlessly. Now that is a real friend.
So many people tell me that I'm lucky to have the friends I do. It's not luck. It's work. Being a friend is work. Some friends you can pick back up with after insanely long periods of silence. They just know where your heart is and the distance is completely accepted. Other friends need a more constant connection which requires energy, focus and some sacrifice. I get it. I accept it. I embrace it. I don't want to have regrets about being friends or staying in touch or expressing how I feel.
But telling friends you love them is weird sometimes. Little kids are pros at it. Tweens are insanely awkward about it. Teens put up barriers except for drunken moments in the bathroom at a party. Young adults get better at it. Parents are distracted and busy and forget about it. (Sometimes). Once you hit middle age and the first person your age dies, you revisit it.
So, before it's too late - I love you. First, to my siblings - I love you. Despite our sometimes painful, messy past, I love you because you are my family. To all the girlfriends from my Firestone Road days, especially the ones I haven't spoken to in a while - I love you. My goofy, badly dressed, messy haired self loves you. My high school peeps - you know it. We're good. To my Rye high gang - I really, really miss y'all. Reunion soon? To my friends in far away places like Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, PEI - I miss Canadians in the worst way. To my 'Mericans in Nashville, Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, LA, South Florida - you are what's best about this country. To my tribe here in Nola - thank you for your love and for keeping me sane.
Who else have I missed? If I ever once told you I loved you or maybe just showed you...Dang it.