I caught the Today Show this morning and heard one of the talking heads announce that there would be a tribute to singer Olivia Newton-John later in the hour. Since then, the internet has been populated by well-deserved accolades for the lovely Aussie singer who lost her struggle with breast cancer on Monday. All who knew her are full of praise for her beautiful voice and sweet, giving nature.
I wonder why we wait to say such things about those we’ve loved and lost? Why do we hold back, biding precious time before truly celebrating who they are?
I did this with my husband, of course. Mike was complex. He had strong opinions on just about everything. These never came from a negative place. Michael simply saw himself as a kind of life coach to the world and was convinced beyond reason that the rest of us could benefit from his superior knowledge. His confidence galvanized me to him at first, but as the years passed, I must admit it drove me nuts on occasion.
After Mike died, it wasn’t as if I forgot about the things that annoyed me when he was alive. As a matter of fact, I went out of my way, to be honest about who he was. But like a lot of people who’ve lost the person at the center of their existence, I still spend more time honing in on the reasons I love him than the reasons I don’t.
Blessed with a magnetic personality and a razor-sharp sense of humor, my husband was a born leader. He could convince anyone to do anything from changing their hairstyle to joining him on an excursion to Antarctica.
Supremely self-assured on the outside, he was a marshmallow on the inside and riddled with insecurities. Admittedly an acquired taste, he was beloved by many.
Mike never had a problem heaping me with praise during the decades we spent together. He was always trumpeting my latest accomplishment. Whenever there was a problem at work, he invariably took my side whether I deserved it or not, often choosing the moment I felt like the biggest failure to tell me how proud he was of me. It wasn’t just about my professional exploits either. Michael never tired of letting me know how beautiful I was or how lucky he was to have me in his life. Amazingly enough, I failed to fully appreciate these gifts until he was no longer around to give them.
His polar opposite, I was sparing in my praise of him. Compliments were few and far between and often too general for his taste. It got to the point that he finally said something to me about it, and I promised to do better, but I don’t think I made much progress.
Instead, I regret. Mike wasn’t perfect, but he deserved to hear how wonderful he was while he was around to appreciate it. Here’s hoping that I can take this lesson with me as I step into a new life. And that I’m able to let those I love know all the wonderful qualities they inhabit and the good things I feel about them while they’re still around to take them in.