An Inner Memorial
Life…and death…have sent me a reminder.
I sat at my kitchen counter as I waited for my macaroni casserole to finish in the oven, determined to finish The Omnivore’s Dilemma which was due back today. Justin came in, wrapping his arms around me in silence. I finished my paragraph, and asked if something was wrong as I looked up.
Something was wrong. My husband had tears streaming down his face. He told me he just got off the phone. A friend of his had shot and killed himself yesterday, leaving behind a wife he had recently separated from and his two small children.
I held my husband while he tried to wrap his mind around the pain this man must have been so deeply absorbed in. And as I tried to send my love to both my grieving husband and this man’s family, I silently admonished myself: My husband had come to me in quiet tears and I had to finish my paragraph before even looking up.
You think you know a lesson. It’s been impressed upon you countless times. And yet, in the every day minutes of life it is so easily lost.
It takes only a moment for our worlds to change. It takes a mere second for a trigger to be pulled and every wrong-spoken word up to that point to seem inconsequential, meaningless or unnecessary. It takes one fateful phone call to remind us that the true meaning of life lies within the actions of a single breath.
I don’t pretend to know what the experience was imparting on the father and husband in my arms, not to mention the grieve of the closest loved ones left behind. But the only thing Justin could utter was the humor and fun this man had brought to his life. He had made work worth going to on the days when no one wanted to get out of bed. His laughter left a legacy.
Earlier this morning, I had read a comment addressed to me about Zeb’s education or potential lack there of. And the words came swimming back to me as a reminder as I pressed my forehead to my husband’s and wiped away his tears. How can we wrap ourselves up in the things that will not matter in the end? Surely we can find a way to grow and learn and experience in this life without forgetting why it is we want to live in the first place? We chase those dreams for the hope of finding what we already have within our immediate reach – joy and happiness and peace.
We, our family, lives for love. We want to live in a way to never again hear about a person’s death and become overcome with regret over the last words uttered or the memories never made. (Please Gd, let it not be forgotten again.)
Let me repeat myself, if for no one else but myself: At the end of our lives, when the phone calls are being made from one person to the next, nothing else will matter but the memories that come swarming back into the hearts of the people we called friends, were lucky enough to call family.
Life…and death…have sent me a reminder. Gentler this time, but just as powerful. And I’m feeling impressed upon to pass it along to you.
In memory of Justin’s friend, Dave and his wife and most especially his babies: Put away your deadline or your goal. Set aside your pride or your impatience. Put down your book…and walk up to someone in your life right now with nothing more than unconditional love. Hold them. Tell them what they mean to you.
Give them something pure to remember you by.
Nothing else matters.