Recently we have been saddened by the deaths of people who have touched our lives in many ways.
Their obituaries have touched me and I am recording parts of them here, so I’ll know where to find these sweet words again.
I learned a long time ago, when a friend of my daughter lost her life in a car accident during her freshman year of college, that we who remain only have one chance to honor the lives of those we love when they leave this earth. This is so hard in the midst of a great loss, but the family of my daughter’s friend beautifully honored her brief but meaningful life and shared God’s hope and assurances with those who were left grieving.
The words written and spoken about these friends who recently passed have touched me in different ways, but above all, they have honored the essence of these dear souls, and reminded us of the impact of their lives, and the radiance they leave behind.
One was the head of the high school where I graduated: a woman I never met, but wished I had known:
Let us ensure, together, that her legacy lives on in whatever form that might be: the words we choose, the love we share, the acts we do, the attitudes we hold, and the dreams we pursue. Most importantly, let us honor Stephanie by how we make each other feel. May we all take an ounce of her love and spread it to others, so that her contagious spirit continues to impact the world.
Another was a friend from church, a man who lost his first wife to cancer, met his second wife at a cancer support group, and then succumbed to the disease himself:
Maya Angelou once wrote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” That was John’s motto, and he lived his life that way. He always made you feel good. He always made you feel special. He always made you feel important. John was truly one of the good guys: thoughtful, generous, respectful, loyal, honorable, loving and kind. John loved abundantly. He lived honorably. He cared completely, and he will always be missed.
The third was the wife of the headmaster at our children’s high school. She was also a friend of mine and a kind, caring soul:
She was a writer of life, the family genealogist, a backyard bird watcher and a lifter of souls with her frequent smiles and encouraging words. Ann’s greatest accomplishment will be revealed in the memorials of loving acts carried out by those who were blessed by knowing her. We will be more determined to live counter to our narcissistic and image-conscious culture. We will find more joy in the simple things of life: the relationships with family and friends, the laughter of a grandchild, the quiet of a morning and the song of a sparrow. We will be humbled by our imperfections yet live in the freedom of grace. We will love and will not judge. We will live with more empathy for others and the pain they are carrying. This is how Ann lived and by God’s grace how we should all carry on.
Stephanie, John, and Ann: In honor of your lives that touched so many others, and your actions that made this world a much better place, I thank God for allowing each of you to be a part of my life.