Does My Life Matter?
I sat in the last row. There before me, before all of us was a large cross laying claim to the front center of the humble space. The speakers came one at a time to stand behind the pulpit as we listened to their stories. It was a light affair, if you could consider a funeral to be so, but the spoken words about a man who was cherished held weight. He was honored and respected. Heads nodded in agreement at the truths being shared, and somehow the occasion of a life gone quietly from the earth did not hurt in the most terrible way. It was a celebration of life lived well.
Last night I had a dream. The details have gone fuzzy now, but I still remember the emotions that stirred me awake. He was gone. My son's life taken from my own, and I would never hold the warmth of him again. It was final. Permanent. I was left touching the ache of my helpless sorrow, my hands erasing tears that would never cease to fall. I was broken to pieces and spilled out on the floor. Even if I managed to put it all back together there would still be cracks that would never heal, evidence of my loss.
I think about life and how I choose to live mine. I think about love and how much of it I give away. And I think perhaps those two thoughts are more alike than they are different.
My sister and I shared a room for many years, and on the nights that we got along we were able to bounce a conversation back and forth. It wasn't uncommon for us to discuss our own funerals, and who we thought might come to show their respects. I always left those conversations with a sad sense of displeasure because even in my youth I realized that once life is gone, it's too late to receive good intentions. It didn't matter who showed up because we wouldn't really be there anyway. I would have preferred to send a survey to all of my friends and family asking them if they would miss me, because what I really wanted to know was, "Does my life matter?"
I look at my children as they sleep, chests rising rhythmically in the soft light angling in through the hallway. I've memorized their faces, always changing but forever resembling the one I first looked into when they were born. Not one of them fits into my arms anymore, and yet I am always holding them lovely in my mind. I don't want them to ever be unsure when they ask themselves, "Does my life matter?" When they come home from school weary from words that were unkind, I want my words to say, "You are important." When they roll their eyes and slam the door to their room I want them to know that nothing changes. When they mess up, give up, or are just miserable human beings to be around I want them to believe the truth that I will never stop loving them.
I only have one life, but this one life has the ability to share countless words. I come in contact with many people every week. They are close friends that I share intimate life with, acquaintances whose company I enjoy, coworkers I respect, complete strangers delighting me with their smiles as I chat through the window of a drive thru. I hope that I might be brave enough, kind enough, selfless enough to use my words. I pray that I might help them to answer the question, "Does my life matter?" Because I believe in the deepest part of me that for each person my life touches, the answer will always be yes.