I wrote this essay several years ago, to the question, what matters most to you and why? I was considering graduate school at the time.
I reworked these notes recently, when thinking about one of my favorite books, “This I Believe,” a collection of values and convictions, edited by NPR.
I believe in funerals, more than I believe in weddings. Death is a powerful motivator for me to live fully and presently in the moment. There is no tomorrow. I ask myself, did I live today as if it were my last day? Did I do everything I wanted to do? Did I tell everyone how I felt? If the answer is no, what is stopping you? Was I kind to everyone today? Did I live the life I wanted to live today? If no, make the change now.
I believe it is always important to go to the funeral. When my mother died, I was surprised it was at her funeral service that I felt her loss. I was not overwhelmed by the trips to the hospital or the hours spent at the hospice, or preparing arrangements for her death at the cemetery. It was at the moment of her funeral service that I grieved.
At her service, I was touched by the friends and families that traveled from near and far to sit through the service with us. The many who could not come, sent their support through the florist or the mail. No one said send the card or go the service. They came because they wanted to support us. It was the right thing to do.
The right thing to do can be small gestures, like attending a funeral service, or sending a handwritten thank you card, or giving to charity to help someone who needs something more than you. If all my actions are filled with conviction, if I do to the right things, both big and small, I hope to inspire others to do the same.
I had a dream once about dying. I was arguing with death, I was not ready to go because I had not accomplished all I had set out to do. Even in my dreams, I do not want to regret not having accomplished.
I am still searching, trying to find what I am most passionate about, what I want my life’s work to be. Maybe one day, someone in high school will look at my biography and say I want to do what she did but more.