Taking a Moment to Care, continued
In Memory of K.S.P.
At her funeral, all of us 22-year-olds clutched each other in the parking lot of Temple Beth Abraham in Canton. The Herald wrote about that, too.
But last weekend, at my friend’s daughter’s funeral, newspaper reporters would not be writing about the end of this “ordinary” young woman’s 32-year-old life.
Yet those who knew her—and her early battle with cancer, followed by a lifetime of physical and neurological struggles—know she was nothing short of extraordinary. Like every member of her family, she was always enthusiastic, optimistic, determined: a full soul in a limited body.
When she used to baby-sit my then-toddler, she would allow my Melissa to climb onto her lap on her motorized bike—her prized possession because it empowered her independence. When the two played together, I could never decide whose grin was larger.
So I thought about some of these things while I sat on the edge of my tub, half-dressed, on the morning of the funeral, and I wondered what my friend was doing right then. Yes, showering, most likely; yes, brushing her teeth, no doubt; yes, drying her hair and dressing, probably carefully zipping and buttoning a particular suit she had chosen to wear for the occasion. Perhaps with a pin her daughter had once given her.
After she and her husband and grown sons would complete some of their normal daily routines…they would leave their homes in dark suits, walking like stalwart soldiers to a black limousine to perform the ritual of honoring the newly departed.
They would sit in the front pew, with the magnificent red, yellow, green, and blue stained glass windows of the daughter’s spectacular church soaring all around them. And they would watch a massive sanctuary fill with people. And the brothers and a half-dozen friends, between sobs, would compose themselves well enough to tell heartfelt stories about when she was vibrant, buoyant, very much alive. And the angelic sounds of the choir would merge with the intensity of the loss and celebration in the atmosphere and waft throughout the church, settling in everyone’s heart.
Soon, the family members would leave the church, touching the hard wood of her casket in lieu of being able to hold the soft skin of her hands.
And the rest of us will go on with our day, our days. We may wait impatiently in a line somewhere, or in traffic, or we may fault some clerk for being incompetent, or we may argue with a colleague, or swear about a torn nylon or a blob of ketchup on a tie. We may very well forget what really matters in life and fail to wonder what difficult ordeal might be on the mind of the absentminded person who cut us off in the other car, or the unfriendly store clerk, or the moody colleague.
Put perhaps this story will remind us to never forget that every one of us is someone’s child, sister, brother, or parent, and all deserve a minute of our time to wonder, as Shelley did that long ago night, what someone else’s life might be like. And to take a minute, like right now, to show that you—another fellow human being—notice, and care.
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