A dear friend recently lost his mother and asked for assistance in writing her eulogy. Not something you get asked to do very often (hopefully) and not something to be taken lightly. As his mom was not someone I knew well, he supplied me with background information about her life. And from there, I wrote what I hope is a worthy version of her beautiful life story.
This was a woman whose life was not an easy one but who relied on her faith — in her religion and in people — to see her through the hard times and to celebrate the good times. A woman who was always there for those in need.
Writing an account of someone’s life is humbling and inspiring at the same time. It’s also a bit of a wake-up call in terms of thinking of our own lives. Have we accomplished what we’ve set out to do? Have we spent enough time loving — or too much time working / texting / standing on ceremony? Have we cherished friendships and told our friends so? And have we created a meaningful legacy — in art, in philanthropy, in teaching, in helping and healing?
It’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of our daily lives and not look at the bigger picture. It’s easy to spend two hours trying to negotiate the freeway, the installation instructions, or a peaceful settlement with a childish boss or a bossy child.
But we’re human, and it’s difficult — and I’m not sure always the right course — to worry about the bigger picture versus living in the moment. It reminds me of the family vacations we took when I was a kid. My dad shot dozens and dozens of photos — but it seemed he saw most of the sights from behind his camera lens instead of enjoying them fully “in person.”
These aren’t thoughts I had when I was in my 20s, 30s or even 40s. But I guess as I get a bit older the idea of finding the right balance between legacy and “live-acy” (with a certain amount of lunacy) is one I grapple with from time to time.
But then the phone rings and a friend needs support in his time of grief. And that moment — and the hours that follow — that moment becomes the priority.
I guess that’s where our lives and what we leave behind meet — at a place where we lead with our hearts.
Words to live by.
© 2013 Claudia Grossman