Our puppy, Mayhem, has made quite a few new friends in the neighborhood since she's been with us. This is great, because I didn't know many of the neighbors before, and now I feel like I have made lots of new friends because both young and old approach us during our walks to love on her a bit. And she loves them right back of course.
Last week I had the privilege of meeting a woman who lives around the corner from our home, she pulled up in her car as I was (ever so patiently) waiting for Mayhem to go number two (to put it nicely). She got out and introduced herself, and we began to talk about puppies, children, life, death....
She had me wiping away tears about five minutes into our conversation. In fact, Tom came home during the time she and I were talking on the front lawn, could tell we were in such deep back-and-forth, he went inside and didn't even bother to come over and introduce himself.
What could we have been talking about that had me (well, both of us really) so emotional?
Shortly after we began talking she asked me if I knew who she was. I couldn't lie, and there would really have been no point to it anyway. I had indeed heard of she and her family, about the time we moved into our home last fall. Unfortunately it was not good news when I learned of them.
Her son (24) had been suddenly and tragically killed in a car accident and many, many people in our town were talking about what a wonderful human being he had been. You know, the kind of person who helps others (he was a well-known local swim coach), who has a deep faith in God, who was really an all-around-terrific-guy with SO MUCH potential. The kind of person whose loss makes you question why this would have happened to someone like him.
In all honesty, part of my tear-wiping had to do with wondering how I would ever handle what she and her family have had to walk through the past year. At one point in our conversation she said, "You know how deeply your children affect you and your whole family, but it was unbelievable to speak with so many people in the weeks after he was killed whom I truly had no idea my son had had such a profound affect on."
That, right there, about did me in.
Her statement made me think about two things...(a) how I might be affecting people each day and (b) how the way I am raising my children will (and already has, I'm sure) impact the way they touch others as well.
Awful stories circulate daily about innocent people whose lives are cut short by accidents, tragedy, random violent acts, or terminal illness. I believe they serve as reminders about how precious this life is, and how important it is for us to live each day as if it were our last.
Which doesn't mean go out and indulge in whatever you feel like, or be so afraid you aren't willing to take a risk...it does mean never hesitating to let those closest to you know how much they mean to you. And to be kind to everyone you come in contact with because you have no idea what they might be going through in their own life at that moment.
My son shared this song with me earlier this summer, it has fast become one of our family's favorites. The lyrics remind me of the exchange I had with my neighbor and would be something I'd like to share with her as she comes upon the anniversary of her son's passing.
Someday we'll all know about it...in the meantime, practice the kind of legacy you want to leave behind.
Be the person who leaves others grateful to have been part of your life.