I feel like I have been doing little else but writing and yet not publishing anything of any substance. Weighty posts in my drafts folder right now, trying to figure out what I want to say and getting it written reminds me why I could not be a writer for a living. First, I’d likely suck at it – nothing stresses me out more than to have to produce something on demand – and second, writing would then lose all its curative mojo for me if it were my job.
M and I attended a young boy’s services tonight, and it was both uplifting and mournfully sad at the same time. Speaker after speaker got up and talked a little about who he was as a person, how he had impacted and touched their lives. It brought the house down; there literally was not a dry eye in the place.
His parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles came up to us afterwards, crying profusely and thanking me for coming to their aid in a critical hour of need. The parents and the grandparents told M all about how I had come to the hospital and spoken so openly and eloquently about our experiences, how obvious it was that I loved and still missed my girl, how our experiences with organ donation made a difference in our lives and our grief. It made me cry even harder. They are so kind.
It got me thinking about those who make and impact on your life, who we remember years after the fact.
There are people who are memorable because of the circumstances – strangers whose paths crossed with ours during sad or stressful periods. I remember a woman in the elevator on B’s final day, how in that awkward way people at hospitals and on the same floor for ill children want to be kind and supportive yet without feeling intrusive will ask about your loved one. When we told her why we were there – my daughter was not going to wake up and was in the process of being evaluated for organ donation – her eyes filled with tears and she turned away. I thought “great, now I have upset this poor woman with a cute little ill 2 year old” and she told me that her daughter had a kidney disease and was likely to someday need a transplant and that our selfless actions gave her so much hope. I did not ask her name, only that she had a little girl with a kidney disease and sold Longaberger baskets. To this day I think about her and her daughter and say a prayer that they are both enjoying rich and fulfilling lives.
Then there are those who stay memorable because they do harm to you somehow. This week I was in San Francisco at a former employer’s office, now on the other side of the conference room table with a client who is considering a proposal for engaging their services. I had been looking forward to the meeting, seeing and saying hello to a few former coworkers. A member of this firm treated me terribly in a cruelly unprofessional manner, yet his career is still thriving in the Sacramento office while I had no choice but to leave to save myself from unbridled, uncontrolled anger. It has been more than 10 years since I left, and I thought I was long over it. Until I got there and it all came rushing back. I get it – I was an office manager and he was recruited technical talent – but the unfairness and the terrible way he treated me apparently still rankles. Even not seeing him there in San Francisco set off a chain of dark and negative thoughts and feelings that stayed with me. It’s taken a couple of days but I am finally able to completely shrug off that lingering anger.
I remember my fifth grade teacher and at the time I thought he was the most horrible teacher on the planet. At 10 years old, what did I know? Then he is subbing for my daughter in her fifth grade class. We went to open house and were chatting with her regular teacher who was out on family leave and with other parents and I did not have an opportunity to meet the long-term sub, Mr. W. The next day Mr. W. asks C about my maiden name and tells her was my fifth grade teacher in 1971 and I was one of his favorite, most memorable students. Ummm … SERIOUSLY? He is now retired and substituting, and what was most memorable for me was that he made my school life hard, always calling on me in class and pushing me to try harder and do better. That he actually recognized me 26 years later was rather disconcerting and oddly flattering. I remembered him instantly the minute C brought it up, in a spine-stiffening, look around to ensure I am not doing anything wrong sort of way.But his surprising words were very kind, and I do not believe he was exaggerating to make points with a former or present student. C really enjoyed him as a sub for the last weeks of fifth grade, said he was “fun.”
In big and in little ways people impact our lives. I truly believe 20 years from now this family will remember me. Maybe not my name or my face, but how I made them feel.
Because in my writing and reflections the last several days, how I feel or remember feeling comes through most strongly. I want to describe the emotions and my thoughts as clearly and as accurately as possible, and sometimes it’s difficult to put it into precise words.
But still I try.