“Connection is the energy that is created between people when they feel seen, heard and valued – when they can give and receive without judgement.” ~ Brené Brown
2020 has definitely been a tough year. But the last couple of months have been extraordinarily difficult in that we have lost two celebrities who meant a lot to me growing up. On October 31st, Sean Connery passed away at age 90. Although I never got to see him play James Bond, he appeared in many of my favorite movies, such as: A Bridge Too Far, The Name of the Rose, The Untouchables, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and The Hunt for Red October. Then another blow came on November 8th, as it was announced Alex Trebek had died from pancreatic cancer. I remember countless evenings sitting in front of the TV watching him masterfully host Jeopardy!
It was touching to see and read how many of the people who knew them remembered them fondly, and stated how much they would miss them. I do not doubt these statements, but it got me thinking about how often we hear people talking about missing deceased friends and family members. In many cases, they had been battling with the disease for many months or years. I sincerely hope people made time to connect with them, as these are probably lonely and scary times for those going through those trials.
I remember vividly a few years ago, when my mom was going through cancer, and some of her former co-workers got together and visited her one weekend. She barely could eat by then, nor walk. But they sat down at the big dinner table, which was only used for special occasions, and enjoyed one big meal of home-made paella. I had not seen my mom beaming with joy in such a long time! Each of her friends took turns getting close to her wheel chair and talking to her in private. I will never know what was said in those conversations, but I am sure her soul was filled with love, and that memory will never leave me.
Recently a friend of mine told me that she was diagnosed with cancer. We are hopeful it was found early enough, and chemo treatments will prove successful. Regardless, I can only imagine how scared she must feel at this time, when people seem to go about their regular lives, while she is going through this silent battle. I have made it a point to keep in touch with her ever since she shared the news. Every couple of weeks or so I text her to find out what is the next step and how is she feeling. There is nothing else I can do, but to show her she is not facing this alone, that some of her family and friends are hoping or praying that she recovers.
I would propose that we should stay in touch with people from our past, those with whom we went to high school or college, ex coworkers, those we met in any activity we previously tried. Let’s not lead transient lives, moving from group to group, and then discarding them once we have “moved on”. Of course, I do not mean we should stay in touch with everyone from our past. That would not be ideal, nor possible. According to British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, humans can comfortably maintain 150 stable relationships (this number is known as Dunbar’s Number).
Not counting social media connections (they should only count if we have met in person within the past few years), most of us do not have close relationship with anywhere close to 150 people. So it would be beneficial to all if we were to add a few more to our social circle. This would mean checking in on them every so often, especially if they are ill or going through strife. By the way, we won’t know unless we do connect with them. It was very touching when people connected with me when I was going through my divorce or the death of my mom. I never forgot that caring gesture. Caring from others, especially those who are not blood related, is part of the beauty that makes us humans.
PS. Since I am a big believer that laughter is indeed the best medicine, take a look at this hilarious Celebrity Jeopardy! SNL skit, featuring Alex Trebek (Will Ferrell), Kathie Lee Gifford (Kristen Wigg), Tom Hanks (himself) and Sean Connery (Darrell Hammond): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ch_hoYPPeGc