The Price You Pay For Caring

Sometimes life just doesn't make sense. This week I went to a local funeral home to pay my respects for a young man who died much too early. I didn't really know him, but I know his new wife who is now facing the prospect of widowhood after just settling in to the idea of being married. The wait to reach the family was well over an hour as the line of those who came snaked through four separate rooms in a perfect maze of humanity. I saw some familiar faces of people I haven't seen in a while, gave and received hugs and shared several silent moments of "how is this possible?" One particular friend lives on the west coast and was in town for the funeral. I asked him how he was doing and he replied, "Attending another funeral. It's what we do."

I replied, "That's what we get for caring about people."

It came out of my mouth before I really thought about it, but i know it's 100% true. It is an amazing thing to care about someone, to let them in and let them touch your life. But there is a price you pay. The price of separation, of disappointment, of disagreement. All good things come to an end, right?

Perhaps.

So on my drive home, I started thinking about this. What if I didn't care about people? What if I just shut everyone out? I wouldn't get hurt. I wouldn't get disappointed. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad.

Then I thought about Brian, the man I'm going to marry this year. What if I hadn't let him in (and believe me, I tried not to)? I wouldn't have the life I have today. I wouldn't have that giddy feeling when the phone rings and it's him or when I hear him come in the house. I wouldn't have all these dreams and ideas and plans for the future. Could something happen to him? Yes. That's a reality we all live with. I'm all too familiar with "forever" being cut pretty damn short. But that is the risk I am willfully taking on as Brian and I move ever closer to our wedding day.

I thought about some good friends that I've made in the past couple years and wondered where I would be if I had shut down back in 2011. I wouldn't even have my best friend in my life. How sad would that be?

For a good part of 2016, I was dealing with something that I didn't see coming. Something that just completely wrecked me for a while. My anxiety went through the roof and I began to question everything and seriously contemplated going into an isolation bubble where it was just me and my children to protect us from all the absurdity that happens in day to day life.

But I can't do that. Nor do I really want to when you get down to the heart of the matter.

Because I want to live life, not watch it go by.

Because I want to feel the highs and that means accepting the lows as they come.

Because I deserve to have my heart be nourished and fed and broken open to all the goodness that this world has to offer. Back in September, I had a rough day. And then I had a major wake up call. A woman that touched my life on countless occasions and that I was lucky enough to call a friend announced that it wouldn't be much longer before the brain cancer that she battled would take her life. I went to see her, to spend time with her, to see her smile and hear her laugh. I got home that night and I wrote the following on my Facebook page:

Sometimes life isn't fair. It downright sucks occasionally. But then I get to see something amazing. Something like a couple showing what true love is. Or something like two little girls holding hands and becoming fast friends. And I realize that the thing that sucks the most is sitting in all the crap and letting the beautiful moments pass me by unnoticed. That's the true crime in life. When I let the negatives drown out the goodness all around me. To be robbed of those moments is unacceptable. So I will choose to embrace the good even when it feels like the universe is conspiring against me. Because I know that something good is coming and something good is already happening even if I can't see it yet.

Yep, still true. And this is why. This is why I continue to care even though there's a good chance that I'll hurt down the road for some reason or another. This is why I fight for the things that I know are right rather than just letting things happen. And I'll keep doing it. Because the reward of truly living life outweighs the potential to avoid pain. Do I experience pain, heartache, disappointment and sadness? Of course. But that is the price I pay for caring.

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