Recently, my group of friends lost someone they loved dearly. He was a young, handsome man, a great friend from most accounts. But he made some poor choices. Actually, the things he is accused of are terrible, but even if they were true, they don’t define who he was for the people who loved him most.
I heard this song on an episode of This Is Us. (If you haven’t watched this show, I HIGHLY suggest you start. Right. Now. Seriously. Go binge the entire first season of this show.
But back to where I was going. Too often, when we lose someone we love, we let that final day define what we remember most.
When people find out that my mom passed away, they immediately ask how or what happened. But it isn’t the moment her life ended that defines who she was. I don’t want people that didn’t have the privilege of knowing her to learn one tiny piece of information to think that’s who she was. How she died doesn’t represent at all how magical she was for 40 years, but for some crazy reason, that seems to be the only part of her life anyone is interested in.
When someone shares something as personal as the death of a loved one, try asking, what were they like? Help that person celebrate the life of the one they have lossed instead of dwelling on the more horrific memory they have about them.
It ain’t about the numbers chiseled in concrete. It’s how they lived their lives in the dash between. – Scotty McCreery
One week ago marks the day my mom died. Today, July 8th, is the day she entered into this world in 1962. Those two dates are significant, but they don’t define everything she was. It was the way she spent the time in between that matters most to me and to the ones that loved her.
She was kind, sensitive, with an incredible talent for music. She had a passion for writing and you’d be hard pressed to find a book she hadn’t read. Tena loved to learn and teach. She had no formal education to do so, but that didn’t stop her from sharing her expansive knowledge with those who appreciated it. She loved with her whole heart and when something tragic happened, she hurt with every fiber of her being. She had dark days, but her soul with filled with light that illuminated any room she entered. Her smile, her laugh, both contagious if you were lucky enough to be exposed. She changed the life of countless people, but the life most changed was mine. She taught me lessons that I will forever be grateful for. She loved me with an intensity that I will never know again.
These are the things that matter most. How did you love? How much did you give? When you look back on your life, it’s not about the objects you accumulate. Life is about the experiences you share and the people you help. What will your dash reveal?
Death does not end a relationship. And death does not end love. – Sheryl Sandberg
In honor of my mother’s life, I will continue to live out mine to the best of my ability and I challenge you do to the same.
Happy birthday, Mama. I love you.