When people give presents to one another, it usually involves gift wrap. For the most part, people like to take the trouble to wrap their presents, regardless what the actual present is. We all know that these presents will eventually fall apart, go out of style, shrink in the wash or get chewed up by the dog, but that doesn’t matter. As long as there’s an occasion, an intention, a meaning behind the gift, more often than not you will find it adorned with wrapping paper and ribbons.
It might seem frivolous, but gift wrap serves a purpose. It’s a message. It is the physical representation of the time, thought, effort and even love that went into the gift. It’s what makes the object more than an object, even though what lies underneath the wrapping is just another store bought trinket that will inevitably sit in the landfill at some point in the future. We wrap presents because the day on which it is given is not just another day, and the person to whom it is given is not just another person.
A friend of mine is going through a sudden death in the family. In his courage to face this tragedy, it made me think of all the times we’ve been told to “Tell your loved ones how you feel because you don’t know how long they’ll be around.” There’s something flawed about this principle – not wrong, just incomplete. It sounds to me like an insurance policy, and we all know how we feel about insurance. It’s the thing we’d rather not think about or spend money on, but is part of the obligations we’re forced to accept. That doesn’t sound like a fair representation of love.
Sometimes, we are fortunate enough to get there in time to say our final goodbyes before a loved one passes on. For some, this is all the time they get. However, there are those who have the opportunity to do much more than this. For them, I feel there’s still a better way. It’s easy for any person to cry and say I love you at a deathbed or a funeral. Love, I think, is worth more than what’s easy.
I think it would be much more beautiful to get up every morning and work to show our loved ones how we value them, with or without occasion or fear of their passing. This is the kind of love that opens the door for his wife after 30 years of marriage, the kind that calls mother every Sunday just to say I love you. This kind of love is given by one to another, not for any particular reason, not for fear of death, but just to share it with the person for whom it exists.
One day, we will all fall apart, get old, shrink with age, and succumb to death. The people we love won’t be here forever. However, we who love them will keep their memory alive for generations after their passing, as long as we have love for them in our hearts. So why express our love only in light of death? Love transcends death. And just like the gifts that we painstakingly wrap, we are more than the transitory bodies we carry around on earth. Our souls bear occasion, intention, and meaning, enough to be worth adorning with love and affection. So wrap your family with love. Adorn your spouse with affection. Honor them today, tomorrow and always, not in fear of their impending death, but regardless of it. Love only for the sake of love; in life, death, and beyond.