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“’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” The oft-repeated quote of Tennyson’s describes alludes to the double-edge inherent in relationship-building: to build bonds with another comes with great rewards, but how it hurts when after such vulnerability, trust, and love is invested in another the relationship is somehow sundered!

 “I feel like my world is falling apart,” Dave remarked when he overheard me mention to someone that Fr. Dennis of our downtown host, St. Stephen’s, had moved along and was no longer at the church.

 “What!” Dave interjected. “I hadn’t heard that!” I had to confirm that it was true. That’s what prompted Dave to then make the remark about his world unraveling. He then went on to detail how it just so happened that others he had come to know and admire all seemed to be leaving and retiring at the same time.

 It’s true: there has been a lot of turnover in local agency personnel lately. Ibraham Mubarak, the heart-and-soul of Right2Dream2, left his position at the beginning of this month. The very fate of St. Francis Dining Hall is uncertain because of the retirements and resignations there.

 And though I had no desire to add to Dave’s misery, I felt compelled to be “up-front” with him. “And I’m going to be retiring at the end of June,” I said. “And Mikaila will be moving on as Assistant Director too.”

 “Not Mikaila too?”

 “Yep. I’m afraid so.”

 Dave’s eyes momentarily brightened. “But I imagine you’ll be coming around from time to time, just popping in?”

 “No, Dave,” I sighed, “I’m afraid not. When a new leader comes on board, as much as I would like to check in with everyone, I think it’s important to keep my distance. The new person needs the space to get their feet on the ground, and not feeling my presence intimidating them. If I were around, it could get dicey if the folks here kept looking to me as the authority and not giving the new person a chance.”

 “Well, I guess that makes sense,” Dave said. But by his own sigh I could tell he wasn’t happy about it.

 Nightwatch is defined by the relationships we build. And you can tell how valuable they are when someone like Dave, who is not a demonstrably outgoing man—new beginningsthough knowing by coming here he’ll still be able to get a sandwich, a pair of socks, and blanket, no matter who’s in charge—can believe his world will be appreciably diminished because he won’t be seeing the same faces again.

 Sandwiches, socks, and blankets may be elemental to survival, but relationships nurture. They are what make life worth living.

 So though it hurts when circumstances may pull us apart, I wouldn’t devalue the energy we put into relationships for anything.

 For “’tis better to have loved and lost . . .”