He died this past week. I learned more about who he was and how he affected other people's lives. I felt a deep love and admiration for how he numbered his days. How he made them count. How he gave up his time for others. I felt a loss that he died, and fifty-one seemed so young.
I passed by his lane today, looking for any evidence of his memory.
At dinner this week, Shane and I talked about him.
"God gives us every opportunity to step in and do good, to make a difference in someone's life. We can take it, or we can pass it by. I don't think God makes us do these things. I think he wants us to serve willingly and cheerfully. And if we don't do it, someone else will," I said.
This was part of a different issue. Thinking on Batman, I saw the connection.
"What is stopping any one of us from walking alongside someone and loving them? This guy did it. Anyone had that opportunity, whether they wore a costume or not. We all could have done what he did."
His street looked empty.
I did our weekly shop today. A woman chatted me up the second we walked into the store.
"Did your husband buy that shirt for you?" she asked, smiling.
I was wearing my "I love my awesome husband" shirt.
"No, I bought it. I got him a shirt too for Valentines Day one year."
I ran into her in a couple of spots throughout the store. We smiled at each other because now we recognized each other. At the bags and wraps aisle:
"I'm following you," she said, playfully. She had a cart with kids, I had kids in tow. We were both looking at lunch containers.
"Are you doing Bento boxes?" I asked.
"Yes," she said. And we had a nice conversation on containers and food ideas. (I had nori hidden low in the cart so Erin wouldn't see.) I loved that we had opportunities to talk. And I wondered if you knew I homeschooled, would that have changed our dialogue?
We all have opportunities to do good and make a difference in someone's life. Large or small.
I had such a full cart that I felt for sure I was over budget. I eyed up the check-out lanes. I usually look for the longest lines to get in on. I saw a familiar face. Down the row another cashier was waving to us. I told the woman in front of me, "Go! She's open for you!"
Her smiles and waves back to me were so sweet. The cashier called to me too.
"I'm going to stay put. I really like her!" I said, pointing to the cashier whose line I was in. She smiled at me.
"I've missed you," she said to me. "How have you been?"
Ugh, that question. Me: no make-up, no shower today; eyes likely swollen from yesterday's relentless tears; phantom headache teasing.
"Good," I said. It's a new day. It's a new day.
I loaded my things, and she and I made small talk.
"I looked up and saw you and I knew you remembered me," she said.
(Oh, she had looked up and saw ME and remembered ME.)
I smiled. "I really like you." She is beautiful and pleasant and kind. She is living and breathing and feeling. She matters.
"I really like you too."
I finished up bagging (I rather like bagging the groceries).
"I work next Wednesday," she said. "Till four."
"I will see you then," I replied. "Have a great week."
It is so nice to enter spaces with people and have these positive interactions, to look into their eyes like that and see good in them.
Looking ahead into a school year--a new class and a new group. I think long on influence. There's a whole world of hate out there. And already as homeschoolers, they may not know the full exclusion of mainstream. I want to impress upon them: their words matter.
"Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35, NLT.