This I Believe

Michael - Knoxville, Tennessee
Entered on December 12, 2007

This I believe

I remember panicking and precariously fighting off tears as I watched my grandfather exhaled his last cancerous breath.

As the bell tolled for my grandpa, I stumbled- emotionally and mentally- trying to make sense of a lost relationship. It is never easy to let go and very easy to view ourselves as victims.

I toiled in solitude, writing and rewriting my grandfather’s eulogy.

Through this process my grief became enriched with a new sense of purpose. I was reminded of a conversation with an old college friend involving relationships and life. We concluded what defines us as humans are the meaningful loyal relationships we form over time, not class status or financial standing.

I also recalled one of the last conversations I had with my grandfather. Late one evening sitting on the bed next to him telling him good-bye for the night he said in his exhausted voice, “Son, I love my family more than you will ever know, and I am going to miss you, please sit with me a while longer and at least watch the news.”

I stayed because at that moment I realized relationships complete a person. I do not remember the newscast or the channel we watched; I do remember sharing an amazing moment that will always guide and define my life.

Relationships, I believe, are the fundamental and simple yet overlooked necessity of all human life. More importantly, relationships may be our only antidote to the stress-induced diseases brought on by our fast-paced economy and our never-ending quest for a meaningful life.

Jealousy and envy of our neighbor’s possessions befall us all, and we are all guilty of desiring the latest technological advances. But at the end of the day, when it is all said and done, our lives are defined by our relationships, not by the number of plasma televisions we own or the number of cars in our garage.

I believe our lives are defined by the mutual integrity and respect gained from relationships. The relationships often require personal sacrifice and many acts of civil dignity, such as my grandfather’s barber making a house call to give him his final shave and cut. But in the end the barber will remember that last moment of friendship.

In the end this legacy of friendship defines us all.

In this globally connected world wrought with strife, commercialized holidays, war, and the ever-present original sin of racism, I believe the power of relationships offer our only hope of reconciliation that can transcend the evils of a troubled world.