The holidays can be a time of supreme joy, or a time of extreme pain and loneliness. As anyone who works in the death care industry will tell you, their days are filled with extremes. As you read this article, 2014 is all but a memory. For some, there were babies born in 2014 and were held and coddled by family and friends. Many people found new jobs, or got pay raises that were higher than expected. Graduations happened at all levels, and miracles of recovery have taken place in hospitals across the region. People who did not even know each other last year at this time found true love and many of these romances blossomed into marriage proposals. For some, weddings have been their highlight for the year, and the circle of life goes on.
For others, without enumerating each and every “opposite”, 2014 was not a good year. Sadly, many people passed away in 2014. Most were hard working, caring, loving and gentle people. All ages, colors, races, religions and creeds were taken from this life. No matter what a person may have accumulated by way of material things during their time on earth, all was lost when they sighed their last breath. Things that seemed so important, like the new car, fancy house at the right address, stylish clothes or all of their I-things (I-pad and I-phone) are no longer important to them. What seems so important when we are in the moment loses all significance when our moments are over. When God hits the delete button on His computer, we are deleted from this earthly plane.
I remember when my stepfather died a few years ago. As happens in many cases, families come together to say their goodbyes, and reunions occur that would happen for no other reason but for the death. After my wife and I lingered and had some good fellowship with people that I had not seen for years, we went to my stepfather’s house (my mother had passed years before) and the entire clan was there. In our case, the clan consisted of eight kids born of my mother and five kids from my stepfather’s life before mom. When I say kids, I mean all ages…all adults.
What was interesting to me was how the house almost looked ransacked as all of the “kids” went from room to room and took the things that were important to them. One of the kids was to be the executor of the estate and he asked that everyone come get what they wanted before he cleaned out the house to be made ready for selling. His word was taken as gospel as the brothers and sisters went treasure hunting.
By the time we got there, there were but a few trinkets left; mostly souvenir-type stuff from trips to NYC or Florida. What seemed so important at the time, important enough to buy a souvenir to remember the trip by, became junk that nobody wanted after those two lives were ended.
So, what is the point to this story? One year is coming to an end and a new year lies before us. What stories and achievements and goals and promises will you be talking about when 2015 draws to an end? What are the important things that will become part of the legacy you will leave behind when the year comes that marks the year of your passing? For some, the inventory of their life will be made during this next twelve months. For others, it may be 50 or 60 years from now but come it must.
So, the death of 2014 is about to happen. Good or bad, our decisions that got us to today are our reality. The great thing about the gift of life is that we can exchange it for something better. We can all make our resolutions for 2015, and for the most part, our new year will be determined by the choices we make now, and each day that we are blessed with another sunrise. So, I propose that we all find that one thing that will make us a better person, and concentrate on that. Loving others is a great goal. When you wake up each day, say a prayer for help in being the most kind and loving person you can be, and spend the rest of the day being that person. Don’t worry if you fail, or do just a little better, or even do a little worse. At the end of the day, review how the day went and set your goals for a better tomorrow.
If we could all be just a little kinder, a little more patient, a little more helpful to those we meet, it is possible to build our own little Utopia. We can sleep the sleep of the innocent when we do our best to be the best we can be. Like the baby learning to walk, we will fall many times. The baby never stops until walking is second nature and running is fun. Let us all learn to run for the new year. It costs so little to do the little extras for those we meet, whether friend, family or foe. My personal motto is to let God take care of judging others. Let me kill my enemies with kindness. And isn’t that a nice way to go?
And Lord, when I slip and start to judge, as I surely will, please nudge me back to my resolution of being a better person. Happy New Year to all, and feel free to pass this on to your friends and relatives.