Yesterday, at a memorial service for a man I love, I had a new/remembered realization about the fragility of human life. Not just the fragile part at the beginning when life is new and babies are breakable or at the other end when, well, life ends and stuff, but the truly fragile middle part. The part where hearts and souls are in danger. The part where spirits take a beating and need to be strengthened. The part where we doubt ourselves and our abilities to do the hard things (and even, some days, the simple things). The part where legs get kicked out from supporting the table and everything sort of starts to slide.
And we fragile ones need other people around us when the sliding starts.
And I realized that I need to — way more often — tell those who are there to help me THANK YOU. I need to tell people I love them. I appreciate them. I honor them. I remember them. I admire them. I am glad to be there for them when their own sliding happens.
Why is the telling so hard? What’s the worst thing that could happen?
Me: “You mean a lot to me. I love you.”
Them: “I don’t care.”
Okay, that could be bad. Maybe really hurtful. But maybe I’m finally old enough to NOT CARE so much. Maybe I can actually smile, shrug, and say, “All right then,” as I move on to say it to the next person. (This, darlings, is the joy of being 40, I think.)
If I said the nice things even half as often as I think them, I’d probably open a window to a lot of peace and joy in my corner of the world. And who doesn’t want that? It’s possible that I turned into a total hippie over the past week. But I still shower, and I haven’t ingested any mood-altering chemicals stronger than butter, so seriously? Hippie isn’t bad.
I’m going to spread the love. I’m going to say the kind things. I’m going to JUST STAND THERE  sometimes. I’m going to hug (except I’m not supposed to do that at school — don’t tell, but sometimes I break that rule). I’m going to offer my strength, such as it is, to the fragile. And I will try to graciously accept theirs to me, when it’s my turn.
 My wise dad has a saying he uses at times of [other people’s] crisis: “Don’t just say something, stand there.” Because, often, the proximity is far more helpful than the solution-offering words.