I believe in showing up. Dinners with friends. Weekly phone calls with my dad. Jogging with my husband. It’s easy to show up when things are fun. But so much of life isn’t all that fun – it’s rather mundane – like oil changes, business meetings and doctor appointments. Showing up can be a chore and it can also be painful.
Like when all my twenty-something friends got married. I showed up to their weddings – single – with a smile on my face, gifts in hand and a lonely heart. Or when my thirty-something friends threw their first, second and third baby showers. Again I showed up – single – with a smile on my face, baby gifts in hand and despair in my heart.
That’s about the time I stopped showing up. I couldn’t bear to be reminded that I still hadn’t found Mr. Right and the battery in my bio clock was – well – dead. Poor me.
Eventually I found Mr. Right, decided I’d rather travel the world than have kids and my heart filled with joy. Why I laughed, did I ever stop showing up for my friends?
Then Mike got sick. I really loved that man. He was like a dad to me and thinking of him always made me smile. No, I didn’t want to show up at the hospital to see his frightened eyes and dying body. But I did. And I didn’t want to visit him at home fading away under the care of hospice. But I did.
When his final hours arrived, I realized nothing could keep me from showing up. Yes, being there was terrifying. It took all my courage to walk into his bedroom for what I knew would be the last time. I looked into his dull, morphine-hazy eyes, took his paper-thin hand and told him how much I loved him. With his other hand, he slowly brushed away the hair from my eyes and told me how much he loved me, too. I kissed his forehead and told him I’d see him again when I die – that we’d be together again. After a few more minutes, I put a smile on my face and walked away for the last time – filled with grief and joy all at once.
It was in that moment I learned that showing up is not about what I can get out of a situation. It’s about being there for other people – for Mike – so he would know he’s not alone in his final hours. And even though it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, I did it – for Mike. In showing up for him, I also showed up for myself – for my own life. And I don’t want to ever miss another moment.