I’m always grateful to be remembered by those who send greeting cards at holiday time, but I never got around to sending them out myself this year.
Again. I knew that once I got started I’d end up writing volumes, my hand would cramp up and by the time I reached the letter “K” in my address book I’d resent the chore altogether.
No fun. Who wants a card written under duress? Not me, thank you. But not writing them meant I wasn’t reaching out at all to the people I miss who live far away, and that didn’t fly with me.
So, this year I’m making phone calls, instead.
Among others I called a dear friend whose voice I haven’t heard in over eight years (what’s up with that?) and an aunt I haven’t seen in over three.
Instead of merely wishing happy holidays – and maybe reporting a few highlights of my family’s year (yadda, yadda, yadda), I got to enjoy actual conversations.
I received immediate feedback and instant answers to my questions about how my loved ones were doing. You’d think I discovered the telephone, as excited as I was to be making these connections. So liberating! As valuable and useful as texting and Facebook really can be, I hadn’t realized how dependent I’d become on these methods of communication for keeping in touch – or how they’d begun to substitute for live conversation, where so much more can be communicated and learned.
I really appreciate that telephones allow us to hear an inflection here or pick up on a tone of voice there and to follow up to learn more about whatever concern may have inspired them. And because most of us are fortunate enough to have flat-rate local and long-distance calling plans, picking up the phone to make those extra calls costs us nothing more. Nothing but our time.
I haven’t gotten very far with my calls yet, but that’s OK. There’s no statute of limitations on reaching out to connect with those who matter to us. That’s not to say that there isn’t a lot to be gained from connecting via texting and Facebook, but it seems that so much more can be gleaned from a phone call.
For example, when I spoke to my aunt, she relayed news of several losses she suffered this year, including the death of her dear brother-in-law.
When I asked if he’d been in a lot of pain, she volunteered that in spite of it he’d apparently refused heavy medication as his death grew more imminent.
Why, I asked?
“[I] don’t want to miss this,” he’d apparently said, as he lay dying.
His approach to death isn’t for everyone, but I’m so glad he got his wish. Because he missed nothing.
“Beautiful. It’s so beautiful,” he’d whispered, as he slipped away.
I doubt the sending and receiving of cards alone would have yielded such a lovely message. I’m so glad I didn’t miss it.
• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her husband, Todd, and their two children, Noah and Holly. Contact her at email@example.com.