21st June 2022

I recently lost a very good friend whom I have known for 35 years. We were at school and university together, and he left behind an amazing wife, and two beautiful young daughters. His passing came as an enormous shock, and the void he has left behind is immeasurable. His memorial service was marked by incredible tributes from family, friends and work colleagues. An incredible man taken too early from us. As one begins to trudge through the dark and muddy waters of grief, one of the natural consequences is to questions one’s own priorities, and to take an honest look within. That which we often don’t want to focus on, is laid bare by the brutal light that emanates from such a tragedy. Such a devastating loss causes one to possibly reconsider all that grabs one’s attention, and to be reminded in an unsubtle way, that nothing is guaranteed in this life, and that each day is a gift (regardless of the cliché label that such a statement carries). And so my mind is drawn towards our role as parents, and to the decisions we make each day with regards to our time, our resources, our energy and our priorities. My guess is that anyone who has left this life, would have a very different outlook on these factors if they were given a second chance. And so I am challenged to be brave enough to question what receives most of my attention. To somehow find the courage to be completely honest about the balls that I juggle in my life: do the glass balls (those that cannot be dropped) get my closest attention and care? And to truly realise that if I drop a glass ball, it will never be the same (regardless of how I convince myself otherwise). The world has a knack of convincing us that glass balls such as family, health, relationships and our spiritual lives, can always be repaired and restored back to prime condition. Sadly, there are countless examples that prove otherwise. Losing someone close to you presents a painful opportunity to reflect. Failing to do so is somewhat disrespectful to the one you’ve lost. And so my meandering thoughts (as outlined above) are part of such reflection, and maybe there are others who too will be encouraged to reflect. To reflect on:  Does my family more than not, get the best of me, or what’s left of me at the end of a day’s work? (a difficult one to face with the excessive demands placed on so many of us) A question that has life changing consequences  As hard it sometimes may be, do my children get my full and energized attention when I am around them?  When I get home, do the worries of the day become more important than the needs of those at home? Am I able to leave the cell phone alone, and to give my undivided attention to those that need it. Or have I convinced myself (erroneously) that I can listen to my child and look at my phone at the same time – and he or she won’t notice?  If I am too tired to read with, or to my child at the end of the day, am I brave enough, disciplined enough, or strong enough to put measures in place to make sure that I have the energy needed?  Do my children see me putting life’s important priorities into action, and not just hear me speaking about them?  Am I insistent on us eating together as a family on a regular basis (where I take the lead in turning off all devices), or have I given into the lie that this critical practice is not really that important. All of the above tough questions involve sacrifices, as I may not be able to do all the things that I want to do. But the cost of not making the sacrifice, of not finding the time and energy, are far more grave and disastrous than any small sacrifice that I have to make. And as I contemplate the sacrifices needed, I also need to honestly reflect on the boundaries that I am putting in place. A child cannot develop to his or her potential, and become a young person of integrity and humility without boundaries put in place by loving hands. It is sometimes easier not to put boundaries in place, but the consequences will bring about much anguish and hurt. Our children desperately need us to be fully present in their lives. Nothing can, and ever should, replace that presence. Getting this right will involve many of us having to stare down the demands around us, and make the difficult choices. But it’s worth it.