In 1970, Stephen Stills wrote "Love the One You're With." Reading the lyrics now, I've learned that I really didn't have all of the words right, which is no big surprise, but I'm struck by the probable message behind images like "a rose in the fisted glove and the eagle flies with the dove." Those of us old enough to remember Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young singing this song in 1971 were probably more interested in the implications of these lyrics: "and if you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with."
I'm not sure why that song popped into my head when I learned that 48-year-old acquaintance dropped dead this afternoon of a heart attack while playing golf. He was in good shape and played golf often. Just goes to show you. . . . what?
This morning I got an email from a former student. I hear from her every now and then. She pops in with an email that she's sending to a bunch of people. Today's was about a woman who was coming to grips with the sudden loss of her spouse and the realization that there would be no more opportunities to do a lot of things.
All of this occurs with rather thundering impact in the wake of the death and burial of Senator Ted Kennedy with all of the hoopla and attention that garnered. At least Senator Kennedy's family had some time to prepare, as much as one really can prepare for a loved one's imminent death. At least they had the opportunity to say good-bye and try to express how much he meant to them. What am I supposed to be taking from this? I'm not sure exactly, but this is what I'm taking from it at this moment.
First, it is rare that we have preparation for that final moment. There is a reason philosophers and theologians advise us to live each day as though it is our last.
Second, I really have to take care of some personal business so as not to create additional problems for those left behind. Please note: I want to be cremated and it would be really cool if my ashes could be scattered from a hot air balloon but I'm pretty sure that couldn't happen; I want my stuff given to charity or sold and the funds given to charity and no one is to wear black at any memorial service anyone may bother to have for me.
Third, I need to be sure to tell people I care about that I care about them and what they mean to me. Last year I received an email with the title "Today is your day" from a friend of mine. She sent an email to me telling me why she appreciated me and was glad to be my friend. Apparently she was going through everyone she knew to share those things with them. How cool is that?
So while I'm not you should necessarily "love the one you're with" and probably not the way it was intended in those naughty 70s, I do think you should be sure to tell the one you're with and who is important to you why that person is important to you.