Yesterday I attended yet another memorial service for a friend who has left us way too soon, and since the moment I learned of his passing, my mind has been going 90 miles a minute. As I sat among so many others who were there to say their goodbyes, I realized how far I’ve come over the last few years when I felt the tears rolling down my cheeks, and how far I still need to go when by reflex I swallowed the emotion and held the tears at bay.
Even just a couple years ago, there would have been no tears from me at all. I have always been the rock amidst the dust, believing I had to remain strong so that others would feel allowed to fall apart. I saw crying as weakness (oddly only for me, not for anyone else), but as I shed tears now I see how much strength it takes to feel. There are some days when I’m still just not strong enough. It’s hard to explain to people how I came to be so shut off from emotion, but yesterday served as a harsh reminder.
To say I’ve experienced loss would be an understatement. I have lost count of how many friends and family members I’ve said goodbye to over the years, no longer able to use two hands to do so. Some from accidents, too many from suicide, and the few whose bodies just couldn’t take anymore. After a while, I put my walls up as a means of self-preservation, knowing that if I allowed myself to succumb to each loss- I may never make it back out of the depths. I reached a point where it worried me that I had actually broken myself emotionally- unable to truly feel and process loss in a healthy way. I had become so detached. I won’t say I’m not still to a degree, but I have improved tremendously. That was where my reflection took me, and to tell you the truth, I have grown tired of continuously having life put in perspective in this way.
I would prefer the opportunity to reflect and grow in my own way, on my own schedule. Unfortunately, I’m not consulted on these matters, and here we are. I’m again reminded of how short life truly is and has the potential to be, and have to go through the process again of figuring out what I will and will not tolerate for the time I have left. What am I willing to fight for? What am I needing to give up- either because it no longer serves me, or maybe I just don’t care about it anymore? And what needs to happen to move me in the direction I’m wanting to go? Honestly, these are questions that I ask myself regularly because that’s the journey I’m on, but there is a new sense of urgency to finding the answers. I don’t want to waste time- every minute is precious. I don’t want to leave the important things unsaid- like telling someone I love them knowing it may not be reciprocated, or say no to a chance to meet up with a friend- as I realize that may be the last time I see them. It may seem morbid, but it’s no less true.
We always think there will be another time, another chance. We put things off until tomorrow, not thinking tomorrow may not come. For most things, I see people as being pretty pessimistic… until it comes to time. When it comes to time, people are overly optimistic living as if it will never run out, and that whatever they don’t do today they’ll get to eventually. There’s always the caveat of “when”. When I have enough money, when I’ve lost weight or am in better shape, when I finish this one thing (that somehow never gets completed)…when, when, when. Never now. While I recognize that not everything can be done today, we can make the plans and set things in motion. We can start saving for the big trip and get it scheduled. We can start working out or eating better. We can finish the project or finally let it go if the truth is we will never finish it because we don’t honestly care about it. It’s time to prioritize our lives. What do we really care about? What really matters to us? How can we serve others?
I looked around that room yesterday- a packed, full room- and I had to ask myself- would my passing fill a room? Have I touched enough lives with love and warmth? Have I been of service and helped others? Have I made a difference with who I am? What will they say about me when the time comes? I know what I want them to say- am I that person? These are the questions that now plague my mind and that will drive me moving forward. How do I want to be remembered?
What memories do you want to leave behind? What kind of person do you want people to see?
The time is now. Start today.
Dance. Sing. Create. Love with abandon. Do whatever makes your heart joyful, but Take Risks!
This is the only chance we get. Take it.