Living on an island far away can make visiting family a real challenge. Airfare is expensive. How much vacation time do we get? But in the last three years, I lost my dad, my mom, and my beloved step – dad. A few years before that, we lost Mike’s dad. “Lost” is an interesting term. They are gone. What is really lost… the times we will never again have with them? Or the times we could have had with them, but were too busy?

I’m keenly aware of these losses as the months pass this year. February 3rd would’ve been my mom’s 79th birthday. And we are not on the phone this year discussing the upcoming Oscar contenders. (Mom went to the movies every Friday, no matter what. Ate a giant tub popcorn all by herself. She was raised on Shirley Temple movies.)

After the Oscars, then Mother’s Day will roll around, but I won’t have to buy a card. Ditto, Father’s Day. Then my birthday, which was also their wedding anniversary–but no celebration this year.

And so on.

My uncle Frank put it this way: “I can remember every Christmas, there always a big hubbub to make it to both parents’ house: mine and the in-laws. It was hard, because it was so busy. Now… everyone’s dead. And we’re kinda of wishing we were that busy again.”

I knew a Mom who used to tell her kids, anytime they fought: “You better love your brother, because when I’m gone, all you’ll have is each other! ” The kids’ eyes would bug out over that. You mean I’ll be stuck with HIM?

Life is officially crazy. We all know it, and we know it’s probably not going to change. So as you race through your days, and maybe groan as you see upcoming birthdays and holidays on the calendar, picture it gone. Picture them gone. Gone.

Magically, your life will never be so busy again.

Stephen Stills said it best, though he no doubt was referring to romantic love. Maybe you don’t have a sweetie this Valentine’s Day. (The singles in Maui complain that the pickin’s are real slim for romance…)

But do you have a mom, dad, or grandmother? A brother or sister? a cousin that you got into all kinds of mischief with as a kid– but you’re too busy to call…let alone get together, anymore?

They will someday all be gone, every one of them. Sooner than you think.

Love the one you’re with.

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Aloha, Jamaica