Two years ago I unknowingly made the most important New Year’s resolution of my life. At the beginning of each year, a girlfriend and I convene at our favorite local restaurant and devour delicious food and wine while writing New Year’s goals, such as lose weight and drink less. In 2013 I made an unlikely goal that continues to bless me beyond measure.
My family is close. I wish I could still compare us to the Cosby Show, but that reference has sadly been contaminated, so let’s say we are Brady Bunch close minus the blended family and having a maid. My sister-in-law once shared that when she met my family she found it a bit uncomfortable that we all hugged each other hello, but then she really had second thoughts about dating my brother when we also hugged each other goodbye. “Are two hugs in one day really necessary!? It just seems unnatural!” she said. In total, a gathering with my family is valued at approximately 24 loving embraces. For the record, this same sister-in-law now initiates and even asks for hugs! Yet another victim of my family’s affection – Victory!
Everyone in my family has always lived in the same state and we spend time together on purpose even in between holidays. We genuinely love being together…it’s weird I know! In 2012, one of my older brothers and his family (a beautiful wife and twin girls) moved to Seattle for a wonderful job opportunity that could not be passed up. It was a very difficult goodbye, and although I tried to guilt him into staying, I was proud of him for making the decision to do what was best for his nuclear family. Thankfully, our entire clan was able to gather twice that year (once for a week in Durango to celebrate my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary and then again in AZ for Christmas). It almost felt like they had never left. They had been living in Washington for a short 9 months and in those 9 months we had spent 3 weeks together, so it seemed odd that I felt such a strong urge to make a New Year’s resolution around communicating more often with my family.
I met with my friend at the first of the year and we set physical, spiritual, professional, and relationship goals. My relationship goal for 2013 was to call or text my family members at least once a week. That night I sent a text to my 3 brothers promising to do a better job staying in touch with them throughout the year. I’m positive the text also included something totally mushy and estrogen-sounding, but I can’t recall exactly. I remember feeling an enormous urgency to put more into my family relationships, especially my family in Seattle. I had no idea how important this goal was or how timely.
Unthinkably, my brother Burt died in a tragic accident 5 months later. Of course, no amount of communication could have replaced what we lost, but I will forever be grateful that I now have voice mails, texts, videos, and countless memories of our communication from those 5 months. I have voice mails of his laugh and videos of him saying “love you Ne’!” I have texts from him that make me giggle. What little comfort one can have after a loss like this, I am thankful for the comfort these messages offer me in my moments of intense grief. We loved each other and told each other often.
I didn’t meet with my friend in 2014 as I was still reeling from the loss of our precious Burt and very much in survival mode. After a 1-year hiatus we will meet again this Saturday and I can’t help but ask the Lord to help me set goals that truly matter. I pray that the intentions I set for 2015 will be bigger than myself and have broader and more positive impacts than I could possibly imagine.
What will be your most important resolution for 2015?