Friday, January 13, 2012
Keeping in Touch and Touching Lives
The accident happened four hours away from where I live, and due to other circumstances, my friend was already there when the accident took place. I couldn't be with her right away, and although I knew she was surrounded by family, friends, and church members who were taking care of her and her family's immediate needs, I wanted to connect with her. To tell her I loved her and was praying for her and find out what I could do.
Having been through the loss of my own parents (with this dear friend by my side), I was aware she would be inundated with phone calls and messages and would quickly hit a point where she was too exhausted to respond to them all. So even though I didn't expect an immediate response, I texted. I left voice mail. And I left a note on Facebook. I reached out through the digital pathways that have been built in our lives in recent years.
But it wasn't until I finally heard her voice on the phone a couple of days after the accident that I felt like we had really connected. Prior to that I knew she was safe and cared for, but it wasn't until I heard her voice that I really knew. And even the two phone conversations we were able to have during this awful week paled in comparison to the hug we were finally able to share yesterday. In this time of sorrow and loss, nothing could take the place of being with my friend.
Keeping in Touch
If you're reading this blog, then you are involved in social media on some level. And you probably know there is great value in social media; I know I've grown tremendously as a professional in the last two years through the resources and contacts I've made via Twitter and I keep up on the events happening in my friends' lives through Facebook. But I hope we can all remember that if we become so involved in these avenues for connecting with others that we begin to neglect the flesh-and-blood, face-to-face relationships in our lives, we risk missing opportunities to build intimate relationships with people that can only grow through investments of time and in-person interactions.
When you think of the people whom you would want around you in a life crisis, or the people whose life crisis you would rush into at almost any cost, I am willing to bet that they are much more than a Twitter handle or never-met-in-real-life online friend to you. As you move forward in 2012, I encourage you to spend as much, if not more, time investing in in-person relationships as you do in your online relationships. Often, we are involved with our closest friends and family online as well as off; in these cases we must not make the mistake of thinking our online interactions take the place of or make up for a lack of in-person involvement. Be intentional this year in investing face-to-face time to strengthen existing relationships and build up new ones.
Throughout this week, I have thought numerous times, "I hope they knew. I hope they knew the impact they had on their schools and their community." Sadly, I bet they didn't. I am convinced we should somehow come up with a way to have funerals for the living. It should not take death and grief and loss to make us realize how important others are to us and to share that importance with them.
One of the things I admired most about my friend's mom was her willingness to keep becoming a better educator and do what was best for her students throughout her career. Knowing I was in instructional technology, she could hardly wait to tell me that she had gotten an interactive whiteboard in her classroom a couple of years ago. Rarely did I ever see her when we didn't talk about something she was doing with her kids or how much she loved using and getting them to use that whiteboard. I wish now I had told her how much I admired her and how much she encouraged me. I have often thought of her, and will continue to do so, when I am working with anyone who is resistent to new technology.
Do you take time to tell people what they really mean to you? To let them know when they have done one special thing or when they've done numerous things over time to impact your life? As a second goal in 2012, I encourage you to be intentional in letting others know their value to you.
Now, go hug or call someone you love.