It’s always like this: death makes us think. Hearing about a horrible accident, losing a loved one, standing next to a grave…shock stops us in our tracks, open our eyes to our own lives, and then the questions start. We decide to change what we do, how we do it, and to whom we do it. Only to find at the next accident or next burial that somewhere life has caught up with us again and our good intentions went down the drain.
I had my turn about two weeks ago, laying my grandfather to rest at the age of 85 years. We were expecting it, so the shock was not as great as the loss we experienced. But I don’t want to talk about death. I want to talk about life. Because it was there in church, listening to the tributes about Oupa’s 85 years that the thoughts about life started.
His 85 years consists of people – working with people, changing lives, touching lives, talking, laughing, praying, loving. True, his career (or rather, calling) required, expected and encouraged a life dedicated to other humans. He was never too busy or in too much of a hurry to rush by someone in need of a touch, a smile, a prayer or a kind word.
Does what I do matter? I’m stressing about a bulk mail that did not send out on time and in the correct format and I rush by my family who has all had rough days. I’m too tired after 8 hours of work and 2 hours of traffic to make time for the friends I rarely see. I’m so focussed when I run through the shops that I don’t notice the lady trying to swallow her tears while paging through rails of baby clothes because she’s had another miscarriage. I keep my chin up to hide my own fears and emotions, unaware that it makes me seem stuck-up and snobbish.
But in the end, when it is my body in a coffin and the candles are lit for me, what will the tributes say? No one that got the bulk e-mail, in whichever format, will know it was my last day. No one sitting in the cars around me in traffic will notice there is one car less on the road. It will be people I lived for, that feels the loss. Will I have stopped life and made time for enough people to fill a few rows of the church? Will they be able to say I cared, I smiled, I helped, I made time, I prayed, I laughed, I loved… Will God be able to put His arms around me and say: “Welcome My Child, thank you for living ME on earth”.
(P.S. This was NOT written to draw reaction in the form of compliments. It is my true and honest thoughts to help me focus my daily living on what is really important. I hope it will help you focus too.)