I went to a memorial yesterday. When you step into a church that was built in the 1960’s, the first thing that hits you is the smell. A dusty paper smell that invades your nostrils and manifests silence as you make your way into a solitary pew in the third row. People are crying, sharing stories and then there is the list.
Mrs. Jane So and So was born on So and So a date and went to Junior United School. She enjoyed horseback riding, and driving her car way too fast down the road. She had a puppy named mittens and every summer would go fishing at Wintercrest Lake. She worked at such and such a place so she could provide for her two lovely children.
It’s a list of the things we’ve done. We all will have them at the end of this ride. And that scares me. The places I’ve worked are many. The people I’ve known are many. But what I have to give and what I have to share? How often does that list feel like I’ve come up short?
Everything that I have done is nothing compared to how I want to help, and there I feel that I’m short on what really matters. Every creative thought of a project I have started or not finished, every community opportunity I haven’t taken, every dinner I haven’t shared with someone I love.
They then opened up the conversation to the crowd. Anyone welcome to share a memory, a story, a happy thought. This is where things grew more dimensions. There was talk of a whole person with dimensions – someone who was always there for her neighbors, someone who loved her family very much, and someone who gave all she was to make sure that the kids in her neighborhood had fun and felt safe.
People forget the list of things you’ve done. They never forget the way you made them feel. All the days of my life I hope to make everyone around me feel loved, respected and cherished. I hope to skip the list and go straight to the generosities, the details, the times when it came down to how unity mattered over difference of opinion. I hope that we have the chance to make the things we’ve done matter less than the people we’ve healed. I hope that everyone has the chance to let go of what they were expected to do before life got in the way, and reconnect with those who matter most and those who need most urgently.