Our friend Ruthie loves crossword puzzles. And she hates bridges. So when she's riding with us and there's a bridge, she knows what to do. She covers her face with her crossword puzzle book til it's over.
I've teased Ruthie about this a lot. But after two bridges in a week collapsed in different parts of the U.S., I'm wondering if I should buy a crossword puzzle book. Oh wait - I'm driving.
It's really not funny. One minute you're on the bridge. The next minute you and your car are in the icy water below. Thankfully, no one died on those bridges in Washington or Missouri last week. But when that Interstate bridge in Minneapolis caved in a while back, it cost 13 people their lives.
I'm not excited to hear that 1 in 9 U.S. bridges is "functionally obsolete" or "structurally inadequate." Fact is, bridges that aren't properly maintained and repaired are in danger of going down.
Whether it's a bridge between cities. Or a bridge between people.
And all too often I've been guilty of neglecting some very important bridges. To my wife. My children. My coworkers. My friends.
Oh, there was a day when I put a lot into building that bridge. I wanted to be connected to their heart. Their hurt. Their happiness.
And I've never made a decision that I didn't care about that. Anymore than I made a decision to let weeds grow in my garden. All you have to do to weaken a bridge is nothing. It's called neglect.
It's not that we reject the people we love. We just neglect them. Get too busy for them. Fail to repair things that break. Forget to hug them, compliment them, set aside time for them. In short, take them for granted.
If you want it to be there tomorrow, take care of it today.
Relationships, like bridges, collapse when they're not cared for. Oh, the final cave-in may come suddenly, but there's really nothing sudden about it. There's a slow, almost imperceptible deterioration. Then one day, it's gone.
The final jolt that jars the bridge and exposes the damage neglect has done. And everything comes apart. The bridge collapses.
Is it over? Not necessarily. Bridges can be rebuilt stronger than ever. At a price. Doing whatever it takes. Changing whatever you have to change. Spending whatever it costs to rebuild that bridge.
Because it's worth it. To recover all you've lost on the other side.