Today my grandmother died. She was 95 years old. She had been a widow for something like 60 years, and raised four children on her own (the oldest, my dad, was only six when his father died). Though I am not terribly sad at my grandmother’s passing because of her age and her readiness to go, it got me thinking about my relationships with my family and friends, and I find that this does make me sad. Whenever someone dies I think of when my 22-year-old cousin Carly died about five years ago. Carly made such an impression on the world, and her untimely passing was difficult for everyone that knew her. Today I reread her eulogy and felt that the things everyone said about her—a kind heart, caring for everyone no matter who they were, etc—were not things that could be said of me if I were to die tomorrow, perhaps not because they aren’t true of me, but because I hide them from everyone. I thought again of my grandmother, and of the impact that she had on her children and grandchildren, and wonder why I never really got to know her. She wrote me letters when I was little, but I don’t know how often I wrote her back. By the time I was old enough to enjoy letter-writing, she could no longer comfortably write for long periods of time, and my opportunity was lost. I wish that I had known my grandmother better, for she seems to have been a remarkable woman, and one whose strength I’ve always admired. I never told her that, and I wish that I had.
Sometimes I forget what life is about, and feel like I need to experience everything I can so that I can better myself before my time is up, but it is times like these when I am reminded that this is wrong. While it is important to improve ourselves, it is more important to be an example and a friend to others in our lives. So many times I have encountered people in my life that I have become close to, and had the opportunity to help them with their trials, perhaps just by being there for them, and sometimes have let these people slip away. I know that I cannot single-handedly bring peace to the world, but I know that I can do my part, and that sometimes I have been neglectful.
When I die, I want people to remember me as someone who they appreciated having in their life, and not just because they were obligated to for one reason or another. I want to affect people and forget about myself. I know that I have an enormous amount of compassion and empathy and understanding for nearly everyone (if it is not so bold to say so), but I don’t always act on it.
I hope that I can become a person like my grandmother and my cousin, and do my part to make the world a better place. I want to be rid of my selfishness and spend my life making other peoples’ lives easier. I am afraid. But I will try.