I'm on a Spring Break girls trip this week. Not exactly Girls Gone Wild of my younger years but a sand truck full of fun and a couple of coolers of libations for the beach. This is a group that ranges from me the oldest at 47 to the cutest 3 year old on the beach. (I'm trying not to obsess over being the oldest, but, you know)
The best part of this trip for me is, I have never met most of these girls. It's kind of like being on The Bachelorette without an annoying guy and weekly rose ceremonies. I've always thought the best part of being on that show would be living in the mansion with the girls and hanging out at the pool every day. Luckily there are no TV cameras so I don't need to do my hair or suck it in all day. That's a bonus.
I get the week to explore these beautiful people, a baby, pre-teens, teens, 30's and 40's and their stories. I love to hear people's stories. I love to watch them be moms and friends and the young ones figuring their way in the world. And there is nothing better than seeing the beach through the eyes of a 3 year old.
Last night we were invited to dinner with another friend of theirs from back home that is also here on Spring Break. This man has the most compelling story of all. Just 6 months ago he lost the love of his life for 28 years to his worst enemy, cancer. Leaving him with their 3 children from 10 to 16. I sat across from him at dinner last night and was amazed at this man and how he's handling his story. The story that didn't have the happy ending that he wanted for him and his family. He talked openly with his friend about the pain of losing his wife and lovingly about the circle of friends that lifted him up and continues to carry him some days through the trials. The trials of raising teenage girls without their mother and finding his own way through the grief.
I only sat with this man for a few hours but in that time I learned a few things about his story. One is, he's now acutely aware that he needs to take care of himself. He feels the weight of the world on his shoulders to care for these children. He's exercising and making some changes. We do that don't we? We think everything is going to be all right .....until it isn't. And then everything comes into crisp clear focus about what is important.
I wish we could learn to do this without tragedy.
He also learned about his circle of true friends, their care and compassion. We don't always know who those people will be that will drop their own needs and wants and care for you when you are unable to make it through the day and weeks ahead. We should really look at our circle of friends and be sure we've got a couple that we can point to and say, "I think they'd be the ones." The ones that would rally when the bottom falls out. And ask ourselves, "who needs me today?"
During the conversation, I can't even really remember the specifics, I think it was about quitting smoking and I said, "It's never too late." To which he calmly and without judgement, but with kind eyes said to me, "sometimes it is."
I just smiled back, not embarrassed by my remark that suddenly felt off center, but receiving the gentle reminder from this kind man living in grief, that in fact sometimes it is too late and today is really all we have.