Thoughts and Prayers

Thoughts and Prayers

Adrienne BoettingerThursday,18 June 2015

Within one week I lost one of the best teachers I’ve ever had and the best boss I probably ever will have. Although the sorrow I feel is dwarfed by the enormity of what their families and close friends are going through, it still feels like everything is upside down and wrong. It’s got me thinking about loss, the impact one person’s life can have, and the future.

First up is loss because that is what feels like will suffocate us. It doesn’t seem possible that someone who was such a force of nature can actually leave this world. I find I keep shaking my head and thinking “this can’t be true.” And then there’s the complete inadequacy of language. Knowing what to say becomes so difficult that sometimes we don’t say anything at all. Or we trot out the tried and true “your family is in my thoughts and prayers” or “you have my deepest sympathy.” Those things are true of course, but it sucks to know how trite and small they sound when you’re on the receiving end. What you want to say is, “This totally sucks and it’s going to keep on sucking for a long time because we’re talking about losing one of the best people around. I know there’s nothing I can do that will make it better but if you need someone to cook you a casserole, run errands, or help you throw objects at the wall, just say the word.”

Next, there is seeing the enormous impact a life can have. The two individuals that passed away this past week were class acts. Not just in their chosen professions but in how they treated people and how they made people feel. Whether it was helping to bring out the best in others or how they treated people around them with sincerity and compassion, you knew you were lucky to get to be even a small part of their lives. Over the course of a lifetime, both these individuals loved fiercely, worked passionately and made so many of us want to do better – to be better.

Lastly, losing people of this caliber has made me think about the future — about how to live my life in a way that would make both of them proud. It’s difficult to imagine either of them working in different fields than the ones they did. It was obvious that even on the days when their classroom or office probably made them want to scream, both were living the lives they were meant to. Neither did anything half-heartedly; they gave their all each and every day because they didn’t know how to live any other way. I want to find my purpose the way they found theirs and go all in with everything I’ve got.

But most of all, despite the long hours both put in at work, these individuals made sure the people in their lives knew where they stood; family and friends were more important than any job or accolade. At the end of the day or the end of a life, relationships are what matter most. No one knows how long any of us will be kicking around this mortal coil. We can’t squander our time worrying about the nonsense and craziness that doesn’t matter. We should grab the people we love and hold them in our hearts for as long as we possibly can.

“And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

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