I went to the funeral of a 21 year-old this week. I sat there thinking, this just should not be. We should not outlive our children! (My heart goes out to any of you who have lost a child at any age.) He has a 20 year-old sister who is a friend of my daughter. As a result, there have been many questions and conversations that have continued throughout the week.
There were a couple of things that made this funeral unique. One is that this family of 6 mostly grown children (the youngest is 14), had just been together over the 4th of July weekend. Their uncle had recently published a book about heaven. It got them thinking and talking. Around a cozy campfire out at the lake, they each shared what they would want to be remembered for and what they would want at their funeral. No one could have imagined that eleven days later, Chris would have been killed in a tragic accident. As we experienced this memorial service, many things were done that Chris specifically wanted. Favorite songs were played, a Gospel choir sang, significant people spoke. I can only think of one thing that the family could not comply with. He didn't want anyone to be sad. Instead, the sanctuary was filled to beyond capacity with hundreds of grief-stricken people, many of them 18-24 year olds.
Another unique element was something that was read that was found in Chris' dorm room. It was a collection of random thoughts. I don't know how long ago he wrote them but all of a sudden they had become very powerful words. Normal thoughts took on new meaning now that he is gone. Others gave us insight into his personality, his sense of humor, his heart and his spirit.
Hearing this list of 17 or 18 things (how I wish I had a copy of them!) made me feel compelled to go write. Not short stories or even inspiring blogs. It made me mindful of how important it is for people to know our thoughts and beliefs, while we're living and after we are gone. What could be more important? I clearly saw how our words could powerfully influence others.
As life would have it, it 'just so happens' that I am supposed to teach a class this Wednesday night at church on the philosophical/scriptural reasons why I endeavor to keep track of our family's stories through scrapbooking. We are doing a scrapbook project but I am also going to have them fill out a 4×6 card entitled, "5 Things I Want You to Know." They will date it and be able to add it to a 4×6 frame if they'd like. In their own writing, it will be a memento; a piece of understanding, a reference point for what they were each thinking at any given age. That is the essence of it all - how we try in a variety of ways to communicate what's important and give meaning to these lives of ours. I have one other plan for "5 Things I Want You to Know." I will share that sometime in August.
So, tonight, I encourage you to write – RIGHT now. Write down that favorite quote, recipe, flavor of ice cream or the feelings you are having. Leave that "I love you" note for your spouse or your children. Jot down the names of some of your favorite songs or books or tv shows. Leave written clues – in your own writing – to who you are, who you love and what you love. It will only take a couple minutes but may mean the world to someone who loves you. You will not regret it.
Live This Week to its Fullest,