I used to be the kind of person who remembered birthdays and anniversaries; the special dates in the lives of just about everyone I knew.

I had a stack of cards for every occasion and took the time to write my friends personal notes of affection. People could count on me to remember – until I forgot.

It started innocently enough. I forgot one friend’s birthday, then another’s anniversary. If it wasn’t on Facebook, I was clueless. When the stockpile of cards ran out, I forgot to buy more.

Even with all the technology at my fingertips, I’d forget to update my virtual calendar to all my devices. I had the timesaving tools, but no time to actually coordinate it all.

I know it is no excuse. I could learn to use my time more wisely and be more organized. I could be a saint and a martyr to all the obligations I have, all the responsibilities I have accepted, all the people who expect more of me (though not nearly as much as I do of myself).

I could make time, take time and time-out. But I don’t, at least not in a way that accomplishes the personal touches of a handwritten note. Instead, when I have time, I zone out.

I am ashamed to admit this, but I’m sharing in the hope it will snap some of you back into reality with me.

Part of my job at the Advertiser has been to help edit the newspaper every week. Recently, an obituary ran announcing the passing of a friend and neighbour, someone I greatly admired. I had no idea she was gone. I had missed her funeral. Mutual friends forgot to tell me, because I am a blur in their own busy lives now.

I had promised this lady I would make time to come and visit with her over a cup of tea. That promise was five years old, yet it was an open-ended invitation to which I never took the time to RSVP.

Often I walked by her home and stopped to chat. That always ended with a hug and her encouraging words; praise for my ability to balance work and motherhood. I must have had her fooled. I’d depart and she’d shout out the reminder that if I came by, the kettle would be on.

When I read her obituary that morning there was no time to react. Deadlines take priority and time was wasting. I managed to push my shock into that place inside me reserved for “emotions to be scheduled later.”

Later came just the other day, while I was driving to Guelph along Highway 6 south. Cars ahead of me stopped to allow a funeral procession of about 30 cars into the cemetery ahead. I watched as the slow moving cars followed in line behind a hearse.

I wondered to myself what that person, about to be laid to rest, wouldn’t do for more time with the people they loved.

Minutes passed and it wasn’t long until there was a line-up of cars behind me. Several cars back, someone honked their horn with impatience; not once, but three separate times. Apparently they had places to go, people to see. They forgot that time was on their side. Ignorance is bliss.

I know I can’t fix stupid people, but as I sat idle, I took the time to say a silent goodbye to my friend.

When life offers you a pause, take it.