Back in 1983, when I was a little Phi, I had to learn the creed of Phi Mu for initiation. Well, we were also supposed to write it on our hearts and minds as well, and actually live it...but whatever. But other than one awkward line "to be to others what we would they would be to us..." I have tried to read over it from time to time since I really do think that it encompasses the kind of woman I want to be.
Over the past week, though, I have had one of the other lines stuck in my head which is "to keep forever sacred the memory of those that we have loved and lost."
Today's date is September 12th. I watched the reenactment of the timeline from September 11th that was on Fox News last night. I remembered that there was a day in 2001 that I went to work and watched with my then co-workers the plane hit the second tower, and then the Pentagon, and then the field in Pennsylvania. I remember seeing people holding hands and flinging themselves out of windows so that their loved ones would at least have closure at knowing they were one of the ones who didn't make it out alive instead of being forced to wonder. I watched the footage of people who had conversations with loved ones on the airplanes moments before the planes went down.
It was eight years ago. And even though I didn't know anyone personally who was among those that were lost...they were Americans...and therefore, my brothers and sisters by default.
This week, I have also read comments on Facebook of a friend who lost a friend unexpectedly this past week. I am paraphrasing...but he cautioned us to remember to let people who are special to us know. Life has unexpected turns...and we never know when the last of the sands through the hourglass will fall. We are to use the opportunity we have - now - to tell people how much they mean to us and to never take them for granted.
He's right, by the way...we get so accustomed to people being there that we hardly notice if days, weeks, or years go by without checking in with them. We get angry over petty things, and we don't want to deal with the sometimes unpleasant things about people that often overshadow the good...so we don't call. We are so consumed with football games, and school, work, and church activities that we just push people to the back burner. And then one day...we get the news that they are gone.
Today, outside my window, my gardenia bush is blooming. It is not supposed to be. It blooms each May like a normal gardenia...and I enjoy the fragrant white blooms immensely at that time. But in 2002, after my grandmother died, my gardenia bushes also started blooming a second time in August (and this year...into September)...the month of her birth. I look at them and think of her and the important and wonderful impact she had on my life. My mother, aunt, and I find pennies from time to time in strange places..."pennies from heaven" we like to think.
There are many people who have shaped us into who we are. Some of them taught us a skill or hobby, coached us, led us, or taught our Sunday school classes when we were little. Others taught us to be better people, and some loved us during periods of time when we were completely and undeniably unlovable. Others believed the best in us when the evidence indicated that the reverse was more likely true, some held our hands through a difficult time, and still others just became part of the fabric of our lives...and were just there.
Anyone that you have ever met was put in your life for a reason. You may think that you have chosen your friends, but the truth is...they are a gift from God. Any commonality you had is because God placed it there to enhance your life and to bring you closer to meeting His purpose for you. We often don't realize that...and we spend years being annoyed by people or not understanding their motives. And if we ever feel wronged...it may seem nearly impossible to figure out a way to forgive.
So, as you go through the hours, days and weeks to come, be aware of how precious and how sacred the relationships that you have right now truly are. Even if you are in the midst of a bad time in your life, and don't feel especially appreciative...just look for one shining example. Trust me, you'll run out of fingers and toes mighty quickly while counting your blessings.
"Keep forever sacred the memory of those we have loved and lost..." may just be words written years and years ago and passed down from generation to generation in my sorority, on to me and now to my daughter. But I choose to believe that the words were written because during the process of the creed's construction...someone had just felt the sting of loss...and included those words as a reminder for us.
It is our responsibility as Americans, as family, as friends, and as beings drawing breath to remember. And to those who have only just recently lost someone...I wish you peace and happiness in the memories of someone dear that you may not see again for a long time. I know that it will take some time to grieve, and to feel again like laughing when reflecting on the joy they brought to your life. I hope that you will soon be able to keep sacred the influence of that person on your life...and you will honor that memory by passing the goodness on to someone else. I have complete faith that you will.
Be kind to each other. Tolerate, ask for forgiveness, and just let it go if you can. Honor the memory of those who made you the man or woman that you are today. Hug a friend. Write a letter. Express your appreciation. And in so doing...you will be blessed. Later!