July 27th, 2016
At my uncle’s memorial service, I saw grief hollow my cousins’ eyes. I recalled these people as the beautiful children with whom I spent countless hours playing every game we could think up. All mourning begins as an internal agony, and although I couldn’t intrude on theirs, I wanted to ease their pain. Before taking my seat, I stumbled over condolences and embraces while feeling deficient.
During the service, the pastor asked, “When your time comes, what will people say about you?”
I considered. I know what I’d like those who knew me to say, but did I measure up to my hopes?
I spend time worrying about finances. I haven’t enough put away to provide for my children’s futures. This leads to anxiety, which I’m ashamed to say influences my mood. Instead of remaining joyful, I sometimes wallow, unable to lift myself from malaise. Worn with worry, I don’t play with my children as much as they deserve. As I look into their eager faces, I grow angry with myself for my lack of appreciation for our many blessings. I realize we have each other such a short time together, and meaningful interactions build relationships. I’d like to be remembered for such construction.
I aspire to a Zen-like calm, but in practice, I do not master my emotions. Sometimes passions overwhelm me, while other times, I barricade myself within my heart, a self-defense learned from years of emotional turmoil. None of these behaviors please me, and I certainly don’t want to be remembered for them.
I hope my dear ones know the depths of my love, yet I wonder if I convey this. Do they perceive my actions as rooted in love, or will they remember me as a selfish person consumed with my own pursuits?
The pastor’s speech forced introspection. I contemplated what others might deem petty or unpleasant in my character. My serious nature sometimes puts people off, but despite my occasional stoicism, I wish to embrace most everyone I meet. I recognize the universality of experiences. Like a child, I long for the acceptance of others while secretly expecting they will find me deficient.
I am a family person, private and sensitive with self-esteem issues and a desire for loquaciousness. I quiver at change and pray for salvation. I am not strong like the super heroes I admire. I am not dynamic and flashy. I grow testy when I feel unappreciated. I grouse and spout off when I’m annoyed.
However, I am a hopeful philanthropist and romantic dreamer who must shake the dirt from the roots of the ugly here-and-now to better shoulder life’s burdens. Service isn’t about recognition or admiration. It is about helping my fellow man, to uplift and enrich lives. Although I fall short, I seek to be an instrument of peace and love. If I were to die tomorrow, my philanthropic “someday plans” would die without enactment. Intentions are great, but without action, they are useless.
As the notes of a sad song drifted over our grieving congregation, I felt mortality drape its mantle over us all. I knew if I didn’t start acting upon the important aspects of life, I would deserve no kind words when my time came. More importantly, when I meet my maker, I would like to think I’ve done all I could in His service. There could be no more worthy life lived.
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