Love What’s Precious, Today

I have children in 4th and 2nd grade, so the Newtown elementary school massacre scared me more than other recent gun rampages. My boys go to a public elementary school in a “safe” neighborhood, and Newtown was an unnerving reminder that there’s no real protection. Like millions of parents, my strategy is to hope that bad luck and statistical improbability don’t strike me the next time this happens.

Grief is Love

Seeing parents lose their children, I remembered my own losses: grandparents, an uncle, a stepfather, friends. My grief was most raw for those closest, and I found that intensity of grief is proportional to intensity of love.

Grief is love expressed after separation. I shudder to imagine the grief of a parent.

My grief for two people in particular was overwhelming. Yet today I remember their deaths among the purest moments of my life. All I could feel was how important they were to me. How sharply I missed their presence. Their imperfections, my frustrations; the conflicts we’d had — everything vanished under a tidal wave of grief-love.

Bringing Love into the Present

It troubles me how hard it is to feel this adoration regularly, while loved ones are alive. With my two children, my love gets hijacked daily by stress, unfinished chores, nagging and battles over video games. I too often feel preoccupied and aggravated instead of carried away by my love.

How can they feel how much I love them when I don’t feel it? They’re dealing with a juggling parent, who often doesn’t have the bandwidth to sense and express the purity and intensity I would feel if I ever lost them.

I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know if I’ll have my loved ones around for days, years or decades. But every time the fear crosses my mind, I grab one of my children — or my wife, or mother, or brother — and breathe in all the love that I would grieve if ever… I let myself feel, and let them know, they’re precious.

Whether it’s a child or a parent, a sibling or a friend. Whether you’re close or estranged, create the space to feel and express your love. Today.

That’s my wish for each one of us in 2013.

  1. Bobbi Owens says:

    Well said Shayne. The arms of those parents will be empty and yearning the rest of their lives. They have been robbed of the stages of development as parents we all prepare for and look forward to. They have been robbed of birthdays, weddings and grandchildren. Long after the cameras have gone, the intense pain will continue to impact their lives. My heart goes out to them. The possibility of death entered all our lives through their experience. I don’t hold back and allow my eyes to light up and my heart to engage whenever loved ones enter my space. I am grateful for everyday that life lives through us.

    1. Shayne Hughes says:

      Thank you, Bobbi. I hope we cross paths this year so that I can see your eyes light up. It’s always an inspiration.

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