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  • Mike L

Too Much or Never Enough?

Updated: Jan 21

A very dear friend passed unexpectedly in his sleep early morning on Wednesday, the 18th of January. I last spoke to him late Tuesday night. He lived in South Bend, Indiana and after almost eight years, the different time zones still often threw me off. It was normal for us to text each other daily and late into the night.

I thought it was odd when I hadn’t heard from him late Wednesday morning. Around 10:30 the phone rang, and it was his number. When I answered it was his daughter, whom I’d not met or spoken to before. Right away, it was clear that she was very upset. She asked if I was visiting South Bend or home in Chicago. She followed up by asking when we last spoke and then she dropped the two words I wasn't expecting to hear: he’s dead!

Barely a week later, I’m still trying to process the reality of one of my closest friends passing far, far too soon. I was sharing the news of his passing with another friend, and she thought it odd, excessive even, that we spoke daily. So here I come to the topic of this post. When I decided to launch my own prepping blog and podcast, I wanted to focus on community and community building. Beyond pious platitudes and tired cliches, the immutable and incontrovertible fact is we need other human beings. The exact extent to which we need them is subject to debate but for now, we’re going to accept that human relationships are on par with food, water, and shelter.

So, the question is, how often do you speak to your nearest and dearest? As a matter of practicality, the more regular the contact the stronger the bond and the sooner helps arrives, especially in times of crisis. I strongly suspect that billions of parents out there make it known that they expect to hear from their children daily!

I sustained a debilitating back injury just under a year ago and it was all I could do to make it to my bedroom and collapse in pain onto the bed. I’m not a big fan of crying; however, I was close. (Spoiler alert: I intend to unpack this injury in an upcoming blog post as it significantly changed the nature of my preps.) For now, I’m going to focus on the communication piece involving the fact that I was injured. I was in regular contact with my family in Florida, my now-deceased friend in South Bend and a couple of buddies here in Chicago. I also kept my employer in the loop given that I was unable to work.

One school of thought says that it’s the responsible thing to do, inform others of your needs and situation in times of crisis. The desired outcome is that your community rallies to your side in your hour of need. The other dictates that you put your adult pants on and handle the business. For a variety of reasons, I was on my own for the first two days. I didn’t get help until the third day. Of course, I could have called 9-1-1. I chose to handle the business as I didn’t think I needed an ambulance.

Talking and texting daily is simply how families and family operate. Whether an actual phone call or a short text suffices is a matter of personal preference. While daily visits may not be the norm, some families make it happen. I was more than a little surprised at the receptivity of my family to FaceTime. For the last six years, my Christmas gift of choice has been a family photo and I had to wrestle them into submission for it. Grandma was always on board and the first to get ready. My mother and sister, not so much. I practically had to coerce, connive and cajole them into it. I was doubtful they'd be interested in video calls but, thankfully I was wrong. In the absence of being there, being able to see them as we speak improves my mood as well as gives the call more personality.

I imagine that the time and effort it takes to drive across town to check in on the folks or your adult kids is easier to manage than the stress of worrying abouot the "what ifs?" Everyone is busy with the daily grind and all that entails and whatever our individual issues are. Whether or not you choose to make time to reach out to your family is a personal decision and there's usually a lot of emotions and mental energy tied up there. Do what works for you.

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