One continuing lament about growing older: The lost souls that continue in my memory without continuing in my current relationships. To be clear, these are not people I have consigned to perdition on account of their persistent perfidies. Instead, they are all the saints with whom I’m no longer in touch. Their state of well-being is unknown to me, their contact information lapsed or lost. The memories of our relationships, adventures, shared work and passions for the Gospel are still there, but these good folks aren’t. Every so often I realize how I miss them.
Maybe this is just one of the inevitable sadnesses of growing older. Over time, relational glue breaks down, people relocate/drop out and new priorities emerge. In the recent past, COVID19 precautions have erased some opportunities for close contact. Keeping close to others—even those who are beloved—takes work, attention and energy that may be in short supply. Some of us fade out of each other’s lives because we’re ashamed about something that might have harmed a relationship. As time goes on, deaths also become an increasing reason for this loss.
These people have been soul-sisters and brothers, so the loss extends further: Fewer people to thank deeply, less durable and dependable wisdom available, or the diminished identity of shared history and priorities.
This perhaps-inevitable element of older adult life doesn’t leave me without hope. As I recall these folks in my prayers, I am reminded of their witness, their example and their contributions to God’s will. I hope that they have forged other, newer connections and are not alone. I hope that they value and trust their memories about their innate worth—their fierce determination to continue God’s work.
And I hope that I have not inadvertently become one of their lost ones!
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