Loss, Age and Gathering the Circle Closer

Blossom cherry flowers in spring
Blossom cherry flowers in spring

The death of Robin Williams is in the forefront of social media and every news source this morning. It makes me sad that all the love and support surrounding him were not enough to stave off the demons. So, this morning I'm thinking about loss -- public and private.

If you are over 50, you've probably dealt with significant losses. For us, so many of these have been very public. And some violent. Our political lives were shaped by the assassinations of two Kennedy brothers, of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers. Our entertainment experience was marked by so many drug-related deaths -- Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, John Belushi, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Phillip Seymour Hoffman. John Lennon was shot down in the entry way of his apartment building. The list goes on.

We lost friends and family in Vietnam, to the AIDS epidemic, at the World Trade Center. The list goes on. Many of us are now the elders on our family trees. We've lost friends to accidents and disease. Someone said to me recently that she now knows more dead people that living ones. The circle shrinks.

All this sadness makes me pause, cherish bits and pieces from those who have departed, and reflect on strengthening the ties that remain, on reaching out and holding on and on expanding the circle.

This morning I am more grateful than ever for the great gifts given us by those who have moved on. I can turn a potentially dreary day around by hearing Robin Williams bellow, "Good morning, Vietnam!" in my ear. Janis rasping "Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz," is my theme song when finances are dismal. I remember my mother's smile, my father's laugh.

I have been consciously making plans to spend time with friends and family I have not seen for too long. This weekend was filled with wonderful family visits and this week includes time with three old friends. I am nurturing a few new relationships as well.

It's a cliché, I know, but this is a day when it works -- reach out and touch someone today. Let the people in your life know you love them. And discover how well you are loved.