It seems as though I am attending more funerals and memorial services lately. Sure thing—I know by now that we all get older and death is a part of life and birth. Nonetheless, death has a much more different and devastating impact on me now than when I was a little girl. When another death is announced, my own mortality and the mortality of all the people I love overcome me with such deep and penetrating contemplations and emotions.
June was particularly a bad a month of death. In less than two weeks, two people who had significantly impacted my life had died. One was a tragic, sudden, and unexpected. The other, though expected, was just as upsetting and breaking. It was a time of deep remorse and reflection.
I attended one of the memorial services and got that suffocating itch in the back of my throat that resulted in fat tears rolling down my face and as though I may just explode from such sadness. It did not help that I was by myself, but familiar faces associated with the dearly departed wrapped me up in warm hugs as we viewed pictures and reminisced about this person’s life. For the other person that died, I woke up in the middle of the night in a hot sweat with a deep desire to find long-lost photos of her in her youth.
With these two people, I thought about how I remembered them, how others remember them, and, most of all, how did they want to be remembered? Would they be happy with how they have been remembered and honored? Did they want to be remembered for their ‘roles’ they had almost half their lives as a parent and/or as a mentor? Did they want to be remembered for the money they made or the time and energy they gave to care deeply about those they loved and even strangers who could potentially or have become friends? Did they ever felt like they were never good enough and had not accomplished what they sought out to or hoped to when growing up into growing old? Did they die feeling peace with their lives and themselves?
I think about the world and times we live in and how we measure success and accomplishments with how much money we make, a paying job, a place of our own, and having our own family or children. I wonder if all these literal ‘things’ are how we want to be remembered? In life, we will often get into dark places of a ‘rut’ of feeling we are ‘losers’ of not and never good enough and then fall into the clutches of our own worst enemy and critic with comparison as the ultimate thief to our joy and staying focused in the one life we must lead and live. I think we remember others for the immeasurable and intangible through love of how they made us feel and the time and energy they gave, or even through pain and hurt. We remember and see public successes, but not and never private struggles and all those times people may have felt inadequate and like losers. We see their smiling and winsome faces and all their ‘accomplishments’ on the surface, but not their tears or feelings and thoughts of doubt. It is hard to be human.
We are truly our own worst enemy and critic and there are many moments we feel like losers. We feel like we are never good enough and what we did was never good enough. When have you felt like a loser? Have you ever questioned what have you accomplished? How come accomplishment and success seems to come in forms of the tangible materialism as money, a house/home, job, etc.? What are some of your public successes that were laced with private struggles? How do you wish to be remembered and honored?
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,