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We’ve learned a lot of hard lessons over the last couple of years. Life has been busy, and I needed a place to be alone with my thoughts. A lot of people, family and friends, had left our lives in that time, to live on in our memories, and fall brings memories, and “firsts” that are bittersweet and often painful.

The weather was nice the other day, so I went out to Golden Gardens where I often go to watch the sunset.

Sunset, Golden Gardens

I walked toward the water, past the sand and onto the rocky part, just watching and listening. A train had gone by a little earlier, and its fading rumble mixed with a ship’s horn…

RocksOnTheBeach

…and the swish of waves rolling over the rocks on the beach.

Rock

I wandered for awhile, and one of the rocks caught my eye, and I picked it up…

Ipickeditup

…and saw the impression it had left behind in the sand in the beach, shaped just like itself.

And I realized that each person in my life, in your life, occupies a space only they can fill. Some people exist in your life in a very specific time and place, with very clear borders, a lot like a rock on the beach.

They leave your life in whatever way they leave…

HoleIsFilledUp

…but the hole they leave is quietly filled up over time, like the sand on the beach.

waves

I pondered this as I watched the waves a little more.

And realized that only after some people leave your life – that you realize they weren’t a rock on the beach.

They were the rock that held the beach up.

 

And nothing is ever the same.

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My friend Bill called me out of the blue today, and after the usual greetings of “Hey Billy!” and “Hey Tommy!” there was a pause and we both said, at almost the same time, “It’s good to hear your voice.”

We talked a bit – about life, our kids, and so on, but I pondered those words we’d said, and it got me thinking…

Those words have become part of my vocabulary of late – in part because – well, because I’ve learned a little bit about life, and I did that because I’ve had a little experience at the edges of it.

So – if you talk to me sometime, and I say that – it’s because I realize that life is short – often much shorter than we think, whether that’s for us, or for someone we love.

We can read letters from people who have made the transition out of our lives to live on in our memories.

We can look at pictures of them and recall the times we had making them.

We can listen to recordings of them talk, or tell stories of their youth.

But we can’t converse with them anymore.

And so, if you ever hear me say that, “It’s good to hear your voice.” – it’s because it is good.

It means you haven’t made that transition from this life to the next.

It means we can still talk.

And listen.

And share.

And laugh…

…or maybe cry.

We can have a chat over cup of bad coffee (usually if I’m the one making it, although much to my surprise I accidentally figured out how to make good coffee a couple of months ago)

Heck, we could do something strange, and have a chat over good coffee…

And catch up on old times.

Relive old memories.

Make new ones.

But we can only do that if we can hear each others voices.

And we could.

And did.

Tom Roush

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