Today my friend is saying good bye to his father. I knew my friend's dad briefly, years ago and I remembered him to be a friendly, funny, gregarious man. He drove the bus to Mexico on one of the mission trips I went on as a teen and he was constantly joking around, laughing and talking about his family. He was a big man with a huge heart and I feel very blessed to have known him even for that moment in time.
Over the last couple of weeks, while his father was struggling with health issues, my friend often talked about how his dad was his best friend and the greatest influence in his life. He talked with respect, awe and a little playful remorse about the adventures he had with his dad and the things they learned about life, God and each other along the way. The most amazing and inspiring thing to me, though, is knowing that my pal told his dad often exactly how he felt about him.
At times like these we often tell ourselves that time is fleeting and we need to tell our loved ones how we feel about them and most of us do. Most of us are good about telling our spouse, kids and family members how much we love them but what about the other people in your life? Do you tell your friends that you wouldn't want to do life without them? Do you tell your neighbors that you are so glad to know them? Do you tell your difference makers just exactly how much they have meant to you?
I'm not talking about becoming a soppy mess and making people cringe when they see you coming for another out-pouring of mushiness. I'm talking about saying a heart felt thank you, truthfully encouraging people in the good work they are doing and recognizing the effort they put into their relationship with you. I'm talking about really seeing the people in your life and appreciating them.
When I leave this world I want people to know that they mattered to me, that I thought they were awesome and I felt honoured to know them. I don't want anyone to doubt the value they had to me, even if I only knew them for a moment. I want people to know that they made a difference to me just by living their life with integrity and genuine passion, that their happiness was inspiration enough for me to live a better life. I want people to know that they mattered, that they made a difference ... so I tell them.
We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.
~Marian Wright Edelman