As soon as…

Recently I lost a dear friend, Jenny, unexpectedly to complications from Type 1 diabetes. Her loss was shocking, tragic, and utterly unfair. It was unfair to the people who loved her and her children who will always need her.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned in the last 2 weeks since her death is to put all of my “as soon as”es on a shelf. I kept telling Jenny “as soon as” I finish grad school, finish my practicum, have a free weekend, as soon as, as soon as, as soon as, I’d make the 3-hour round trip to come take her to lunch. Now I realize that I can’t put off making time for important friendships like that because those “as soon as”es run out.

And let me tell you, I had very good excuses for the as soon as. A year ago I started working on my Masters at the age of 40 while working full-time and raising 4 children. In August I added a 16-hour a week practicum to that already full schedule and that will continue until the end of this Spring semester. Even in all of that I still found time to go to her funeral. What I wouldn’t give to have spent the afternoon talking and laughing and sharing a meal with her instead. I will never get the chance to do that again.

If you have a friend that you’ve been talking about going to lunch with for forever, or going and do this activity but you just haven’t got the time, because life is busy, just do it. You can take a few hours out of your hectic schedule to see this friend. Because you never know if the next time you have to carve time out of your schedule for them will be at their funeral.

And the thing is, I know that there is a finite amount of time we all have on this planet. And that every trip around the sun is a gift. I knew that when I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer. But it wasn’t until I saw the text telling me Jenny had unexpectedly died that I realized my “as soon as” with her had run out. She and I had just been talking right before she went to bed that night and never woke up again. I could have never known that would be the last time we would laugh about something funny together, what I called “our thing.” If I could take the last month back, I would have spent one of the days off I had at Christmas with her instead of organizing my closet.

One thing I’ll always be grateful for is that I didn’t “as soon as” a book Jenny kept begging me to read. We were/are both voracious readers and I trusted her recommendations. I was going to “as soon as I graduate” this book, but instead I checked it out from the library and spent a few weeks reading it each night before bed. Jenny was thrilled when I told her I read it. We spent a good amount of time discussing it. I almost put off reading it. I’m so glad I didn’t.

I’m always going to regret I didn’t make the time to visit Jenny within the last year of her life because I was too overwhelmed with school, work, and practicum. I had once said to Jenny that I would usually only go to her county under duress, but I’d go there for her. I’m just so heartbroken that the last time I went there for her was for her funeral. The only thing I can do to make it up for her is to never take a friend like her for granted again.

No more “as soon as.”