The one event that often serves as a catalyst that makes people take stock of their lives is when somebody they know dies.
Though we all know we will physically die someday, there is nothing that completely prepares us for the moment someone dies. Sudden deaths do shock us, but it also impacts us when people with long illnesses finally die. Their long illness allows us to prepare somewhat, but the moment it happens we feel helpless. One minute they are alive, and the next minute their soul has gone.
The interesting aspect of this is that the deaths that cause us to take stock are not always people we know closely.
For example, I recently returned from vacation, and the evening I returned I was sitting on my couch reading The Saturday Independent. As I skimmed the pages, I read the obituary of somebody I knew as a youth.
It always causes us to feel a strange vibe when somebody we went to school with dies. I have not experienced too much of that, but now I am 45, so I guess I better get used to it in the coming years.
Additionally, before I went on my vacation, there was a co-worker of mine who had to miss a few days of work because of an illness. When I returned, I read a notice on our company bulletin board that said she had passed away. First, she was sick, then she was hospitalized and she was gone within days.
When events like this happen, it causes us to look long and hard at where we are in life. When I was a boy, I remember thinking that I would be 35 in the year 2000, and that year seemed like some far off and remote time. Of course, I have now steamrolled by that point and am deep into middle age.
It is fascinating that the deaths of these people have caused such deep personal reflection within me. Both were blips on my personal radar when they were alive. My classmate who died was somebody I probably had not talked to since we left school. However, my memories of her are that she was a warm and good person.
As for the co-worker, I was an acquaintance of hers, and I had worked with her on projects. Still, I can not say that I considered her a friend even though she was a very nice person.
Perhaps this says a lot about the impact people have on our lives without our really knowing it. As we zoom through each day, we interact with lots of people. However, by the end of the day, we often forget what we said or did not say to the people we encountered.
Still, these people we meet must impact us on a subconscious level. How else can I explain what I have been feeling during the last couple of weeks?
If nothing else, this fact should empower us with a deep sense of personal responsibility. Since we do impact people as we meet them, we must make a decision whether we will impact them in a positive or negative way.
This is part of the legacy we will leave when we die. Too often, people get depressed and feel there is no way for them to make a difference in a world so big. The content of this column screams that this is not true. Maybe the events of the last couple of weeks mean I need to commit to making the most of my opportunities.
In closing, thank you Susie and Glenda. Thank you for impacting my life.