One year ago today, our friend’s husband celebrated his 54th birthday. Nine days later, he passed away following an accident. Things can change very quickly, in the most unexpected ways, in life. Marriages end. People lose their jobs. Frightening diagnosis are meted out. None of us really knows how much time we have - - in the relationship, in the job, in life. Of course, things can change for the good too but it’s the bad that really takes us by surprise, “I just saw him the other day. What do you mean he died?” “I didn’t realize there was a problem…you never said.”
Last week, our friend who lost her husband posted the following:
Next Sunday would’ve been my husband’s 55th birthday, and this is the first year we are without him. I don’t want to focus on all the sad because he wouldn’t want that, so I was thinking a great gift for him would be to pay it forward. So many families that are torn apart by anger and resentment and fights over stupid little things that you might not even remember what it was, and you don’t speak to people for years because you didn’t like something they said.
I’m inviting you all on my husband’s birthday to please pay it forward. If there’s family you’ve had harsh words with, call them. Life is too short for stupid little petty fights. Family is family. When you leave this earth you leave all the anger and hatred and sadness behind and there is only love. So why not enjoy a little more of the love while we’re still here. So whether you call a family member you haven’t talked to in years, buy a cup of coffee for a stranger, or even just hold out your hand and shake the hand of a stranger because you might just make their day. That was the type of person my husband was. He touched so many people in his day to day life and didn’t even know it. Whether it was somebody he had coffee with at work, or just said good morning to someone in the break room every day, or smiled at someone he passed in the hallway. I remember one night we were at dinner, and he had won a little money on a scratch ticket. We started talking to this nice couple at the bar chatting for a bit. He actually picked up their dinner tab. I remember being a little shocked at the time, but he wanted to do it and he did it. He knew all of our neighbors, and he took time to learn about their lives.
So I can’t make him a cake or buy him a present, but I can celebrate that he was in our life. So Sunday the 10th if you are in the area, stop by in the afternoon to have a little something to eat or drink a toast to John. He will be smiling down on all of us.
Feel free to share your pay it forward gift for John here 💜💖💕
This morning, Andrea paid it forward in a small way which didn’t seem like quite enough to honor a life well lived and a man well loved. Later on, we went to our friend’s and raised a glass to John.
And I looked at our friend, this brave strong woman who’s faced what I am sure she would have thought was un-faceable before she had no other choice other than to do just that - - to look it in the eye and keep moving forward, one foot in front of the other. I thought of a friend who found herself suddenly single, facing the un-faceable and I thought of her growth and strength. And I remembered the wise words of my friend Bill, who earlier this year wrote what a gift it is to see someone grow and evolve in front of your eyes. Real, authentic, painful growth. How scary it all is - - to love, to pour ourselves into another or into a job. Then I thought of Brené Brown who wrote:
“To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees – these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But, I’m learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude and grace.” - Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
Cheers to John. Cheers to those who loved him and miss him. Cheers to paying it forward. Cheers to being strong enough to let those petty little grievances go. Cheers to being brave enough to have that difficult conversation. Cheers to those of us brave enough to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees but offers us the opportunity to live with joy, gratitude and grace.