As my uncle passed away this week, I spent some brief time with his family. His kids, my favorite cousins, and their mother, closest sister of my own mom. We were close when we were little, but somehow grew apart and shared only the occasional phone calls or a brief visit once per year.
Somehow stressed by the work I had promptly left behind, I was feeling kind of guilty and checking my phone compulsively. The atmosphere was, as you can imagine, quite sad, and I felt unable to say or do much that could comfort them. I hugged, patted shoulders, said “there, there” and other small nonsensical things.
On the way back, I was wondering why part of me felt hassled, like all the time people need things from me, and somehow I am left with very little to give. My husband said “Well, you seem to spend so much of your energy at work, on relationships where people ask for lots of things, that there’s very little energy left to invest in yourself and in those relationships with people who don’t ask for much, but they matter more.”
It’s true, you know. At the end of the day, at the end of my to-do list, there’s only me and him left, and, ironically enough, we’re the ones who matter most.
I then learned to appreciate the space created, one of closeness, intimacy in grief and shared support.
I can only hope that what I gave was in the least helpful, and I became grateful for being able to drop everything and just be there, for those who matter more.