This I Believe
The obituary was brief and to the point. It read… “There will be no services. If you had wished to see me, you would have seen me while I was alive.”
What a way to start my day! All I wanted to do was glance at the obituaries over a cup of coffee. This obituary was different than the others. It haunted me.
Days and weeks passed and out of nowhere the words of this obituary would play out in my mind, and I would feel sadness for this young man; however, the other thing that happened was, that I was reading the obituaries more closely now, looking for something out of the ordinary, and sure enough I would find some most unusual obituaries.
In direct contrast, some would actually tell humorous quirks about the person. Some obituaries would make me laugh, some would make me cry and some would make me wish I had known that person in life. I started to clip the most interesting and relegated them to a little box. As my collection grew, I would place them in an album, and underline the reasons I had collected those in particular.
After several years, I shared my passion with some friends. Though at first they thought I was a bit odd for doing this, they too became interested in what “the dead’ had to say, for the obituaries spoke more about life than of death. Here on a daily basis I was connected with what was important in life, and found that it was not the fame and fortune that we might think would bring happiness and prosperity but rather the simple things in life that we sometimes take for granted… the love of family, friends and pets, a reason to get up in the morning , the desire to help others, and the need to make a difference in this world in our own small way. These like feelings came from all religious and non-religious persuasions , and from names we would recognize and those we would not. They were written by families, obituary writers and sometimes by the persons themselves.
As a critical care nurse I deal with life and death. I have always been fascinated with the stories my patients have shared about their lives and I particularly like to ask them, “ who is your hero?” One patient responded…”Well, John Wayne , because he could do anything” and others would bring up names of people in their past who believed in them, gave them an opportunity or loved them unconditionally. Some of their heroes touched their lives only briefly and probably had no idea of the impact they had made. And so, I celebrate life day by day and learn from those who have gone before me. Everyone has a story to tell. We just need to take the time to listen. It is well to note that how we live our lives is how we will be remembered. This I believe.
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