Today I attended a memorial service. It was among the most remarkable I’ve attended. It honored a very specific person, well two people really. Yet I felt the presence of all my own losses in life and many others I’ve witnessed and learned of on this journey we call life.
The service was a memorial for Wendy’s mother, Melinda, who died 45 years ago in a car wreck that took the lives of others but not Wendy. Wendy was the sole survivor. Wendy chose at this point in her life to honor the loss of her mother through a memorial service and her own path in moving forward. What courage in action.
Earlier this week at our staff meeting, the check-in question also honored the loss of a beloved niece, Emmy, who left us a year ago. Emmy was the niece of one of our staff people. Emmy would have been only entering 4th grade this year and yet didn’t. Emmy was super brave during her struggle with cancer. The check-in question was about when were you brave. The United Way staff all gave beautiful answers and there were tears and laughter. It was brave. On my turn, I shared honestly that I have always wanted to be brave. I have witnessed bravery many times and I always feel lacking. I hope when it’s my turn, it’s somewhere inside me. I really do.
I had a sidebar conversation today that led me down a path I wasn’t expecting at all. It was about a problem in our community and again about bravery. When do we stand up, give up, or give in. And when does giving in look very different from giving up. And when is it time to stand up. I have to work this through longer before I know what step is mine to take. We’ll all learn together on this one.
Back to today. As I shared at the beginning, it was personal. My mother died in car wreck when I was 2 1/2. I was only a bit younger than Wendy. I am lucky to have 3 older sisters and many aunts and uncles and grandparents who jumped in immediately to surround me with love and have always been there for me along with a younger sister and new mom who came along later to help me become who I am. Today though, I went for Wendy as much as for me.