Several months ago, my husband and I were discussing life and relationships. He asked, “If your mother was alive today, what would you say to her?” I thought about this for several minutes then replied, “Nothing.” He just stared at me.
“What do you mean nothing?” he asked. “I mean exactly that, nothing. We said all there was to say. No words were going to change the past. Instead, I would enjoy her presence.” I glanced at him through tear filled eyes. Silence filled the space between us.
Time was not on our side. My mother passed away before I really got to know her again.
Thich Nhat Hanh wrote, “If you love someone, the greatest gift you can give them is your presence.” I understood the power of those words before I ever read them. The thing I miss most is my mother’s presence. She is not the only one. There are people in my life that I miss terribly. My daughter and grandchildren. Friends that moved away. Relationships I have longed for my entire life. Relationships that still need healing. Their absence has left a mountain-size whole in my heart.
This reality has changed my perspective. We live in a connected world, but everyday people are growing increasingly disconnected; so I decided to try something different this summer. I unplugged. However, I didn’t unplug entirely. Unplugging is like breaking an addiction, sometimes you have to wean off slowly. I’m not a huge TV fan, so that wasn’t a big issue for me, and for the most part I can do without social media. My issue: I happen to get completely immersed in whatever I am doing, whether its preparing and studying lesson plans, writing, or researching, it doesn’t matter; except my mind is always on, which makes me absent while present.
I don’t want to miss one moment of life. Yes, I do have obligations, work, deadlines, bills, and so on, just like everyone else. But I can choose to be actively present in the lives of those around me. The loss of my mother helped realize what is truly important—presence.
My presence matters to those who love me and vice versa.
I won’t always be able to take six-to-eight weeks off, but I can choose to be more intentional about being present in the moment. When I do, I will experience one of life’s greatest treasures: the presence of others and so will you.