Friday, August 26, 2011

Old Friends, New Friends, Changes

The past couple weeks have been full of changes for our family, with neighbors and friends moving, new neighbors (hopefully soon to be friends) moving in, old friends reappearing in our lives, and old friends passing on.  It's been good to renew and reminisce, hug and commiserate, encourage and laugh.  The grieving has been harder.

It's been good for our kids to see and hear about these life passages, but hard as well.  Death and change are just another part of life, and dealing with them a facet of growing up, but sometimes it's not easy.  (Sometimes it stinks beyond words.)  It's not easy at any age, really, if you love and care for the people you know.  It's only "easy come, easy go" if you don't form any real, lasting attachments; if you don't care enough to mind when someone leaves, if you don't love enough to hurt at partings.

Today my Mom called.  Usually she's the one who can hear me say one word and ask, "What's wrong?"  (We call it "Mom radar.")  Today it was the other way around.  A dear friend she and my Dad have known for over 40 years passed away yesterday.  My parents met "Aunt" Bea and "Uncle" Bill when I was a baby.  My sisters and I knew their two sons; we played with them during the time we lived near each other, while our parents talked and hung out.  I still remember Uncle Bill buying sparklers and lighting them up for us in their back yard on muggy summer evenings.  We'd play with the sparklers and chase fireflies and each other until after the stars came out, then we'd fall asleep in the car on the ride home.  Years went by, and our families moved miles/states/countries apart, but Mom and Aunt Bea always stayed in touch.  We saw them a handful of times through our teen years, and my parents visited them after they moved to North Carolina.  Just a couple months ago Uncle Bill was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer.  He passed away yesterday, not long after a chemo treatment; his heart couldn't take it any more.  Mom and Dad will see Aunt Bea in a couple weeks, on their way down that direction to visit my youngest sister and her family.

My parents are understandably upset and sad.  From their group of longstanding friends, a handful of couples they've know for decades, Mom is the only one who isn't a widow now.  Dad has seen many of his friends pass on in the last few years (one just a month ago), and my Uncle Chris had a scare with Guillane-Barre Syndrome recently.  I wish I could help them more, but I haven't walked their path yet.  I can offer support and love, but not understanding.  It will be my generation's turn soon enough.

The kids have been a bit unnerved by all the deaths and illnesses around them this summer.  A friend's father whose cancer has returned, a little girl murdered in a town nearby, Uncle Chris' illness, their cousin's heart surgery, Uncle Bill, and the list goes on.  I've tried to comfort them and explain things to them without scaring them, but sometimes life is very scary even though we have hope in Christ.  I hope and pray we don't lose anyone else any time soon.  Sometimes life seems so short.

I have to go hug my kids now. . . .