"As the years go by and I watch my children already being better versions of me, as I continue to add names to the list of people I wish lived closer, led lives that managed to overlap now and again with my own or, worse yet, were simply still living, I get better and better at being mindful of all there is to appreciate. Focus drifts for periods of time, moods darken and the weight of day-to-day existence shrouds the holding up of all the good things now and again, but few days pass without my remembering my blessings."
I wrote those words more than five years ago, as Lil and then Pipe emerged from infancy and began to show the innate kindness and sensitivity inherited from their mother as well as unveiling their own unique traits. Each new day I see more to celebrate in their emotional and intellectual growth.
I wrote those words in reflection of lost loved ones and dispersed friends. Migration from this world and across the planet has continued.
Blessings still abound and my appreciation of them has only deepened.
I cannot effectively express, at least not fully, how loved and worried-over we've felt the last few days and how much it has meant. If circumstance is equitable enough to find us in the same place again, I hope to have the chance to pull many of you close in shared embrace, look you in the eye, and tell you directly of what your gestures have meant. Depth of emotion even then will probably make me bumble and fall short on the words, but I'll get the hug right.
Know that your kindness is noticed and cherished. Know that we anxiously await the opportunity to pay it back and pay it forward.
Know that the love we feel is love we hope that each of you feel from us in return and from others around you.
The news in all its forms points to our differences of politics, of religion, of heritage, of social or economic status, of interests, of lifestyle, of opinion and would have us "know" that all is lost. I look to my broad circle of friends, diverse in politics, religion, heritage, social and economic status, interests, lifestyle, and opinion and choose to see not "sides" but individuals trying their best to make sense of their short existence. I KNOW all is not lost.
Doubt, anger, and frustration are human inevitabilities but they need not steer entirely our perspectives.
"Love thy neighbor as thyself." It is a biblical imperative, but, you need not espouse Christianity or any other religion to understand that in the broadest sense, this is basically a natural inclination.
A child is faced with a life-altering (at least) medical diagnosis, a family sags beneath the burden, and instinctually you want to know how you can help. You don't run through some checklist to make certain that the girl and her family are on your side. You act. In those moments, we know there are no sides. Too often we feel otherwise.
From one neighbor to another, thank you. I love you and I thank you for loving me, loving Lily, loving all of us.
We've received an abundance of support of every kind, but, if we can, we ask one more favor. We ask that you remember the rest of your literal and figurative neighbors over the likely contentious weeks ahead.
But please don't let differences of opinion stand in the way of the need to care for one another. Don't let fictitious divisions become absolutes.
It's hard, but it's not as hard as we make it if we put love and human decency first.