Yesterday my oldest child turned 21. Of course I knew it was coming—I’d thought about it, bought and sent gifts, pulled out old photo albums and cried while remembering days past that seemed like only a few short weeks ago, gave myself a pep talk to mentally prepare myself for it…

But when the day arrived, I wasn’t prepared. Not at all.

I wasn’t prepared for the almost physical sensation of my hands lifting off of him. I wasn’t prepared for the nearly tangible, “my work here is done” words hanging inside a thought bubble over my head. I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that sent me on a roller coaster I didn’t pay to ride. But they were there, they hit hard. Now my son is an adult. Now he can fully function in his own life and make brand new world of his own. Now he can come and go as he pleases without needing any offering or advice from me. At least that’s how it felt. Honestly, I spent most of the day a bit depressed. Life is short and moving way too fast for my taste. And to think “my work here is done” was one of the saddest thoughts of all.

As if they could sense my mood, a few close friends called and texted just to check on my mental state. A couple made jokes, a couple poked fun, all made me smile. Still, those words wouldn’t leave my presence no matter how hard I tried to shove them away. My work here is done. I didn’t like them at all.

But then my son called this morning.

He was crying. He’d received some bad news. We all had, and the day quickly took a downward turn.

It was during that conversation that it hit me: My son was struggling. My son was hurting. My son needed me. My work there will never be done, because we are never ever actually done with people. Not our children. Not our loved ones. Not our friends. Not people who matter. Not even people we’ve yet to meet. Because If were that easy to walk away from the ones we love most, then the connection was never there in the first place.

People are meant to connect. People are meant to be cared for. People are meant to be loved. People are meant to walk through life side by side with one another, joined by a thread that—even if it pulled tight and thin and on the verge of snapping—never actually breaks.

Life is short. We need each other. And as long as we have the privilege to live it, may our work in each other’s lives never actually be completed. Much love to you this Saturday.

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