Someone I never knew died today and I am sad. A few hours ago he simply took his last breath. His children will never hear him laugh again. His wife, a friend of mine, will never see him sip his morning coffee or put on his jacket. Gone. He is just gone.
This EXIT door on the wall of all of our lives has bothered me my whole life. It first hit me hard at the age of six while looking at the stars. ‘Someday,’ I thought, ‘I will NOT be here but the stars WILL!’ Last week, I bought a leather chair and as I arranged it in the living room, realized that it will be around longer than I will.
I don’t like the fact that chairs last longer than people. I don’t like that we labor to become somebody only to end up as no one at all; merely a name on a headstone over bone and dust. I don’t like knowing that I can’t present Granny with a ripe lemon off my newly planted tree. She isn’t here to enjoy it anymore.
What keeps me going is Love; love for the people in my life who really matter. But I don’t just mean my husband and children. I mean the people, living and dead, whose books inspire me, whose music moves me. I am talking about complete and utter strangers whom I will never meet; the impoverished woman in Africa who has started a school for young girls; the men who lie in agonizing wait under the rock of that Chilean mine. I mean that father; the one I’ve never met.
I am not writing a will. No possession I own will mean near as much to my children as the time that I spent with them. Things don’t make memories. People do. When I’m gone, they may take my degrees off the wall and trash them. (Save the frames!) And whatever can be of use, may they USE IT. What I hope they carry away with them always, though, are the songs* they inspired in me; the ones I sang for them and all those strangers I never met. Then my labors of love will not be lost and the stars can shine on. (*You can listen to Helen’s songs at http://www.facebook.com/pages/HELEN-HUDSON/34587010457 .)