Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Lesson Learned the Hard Way

Thanks to tworque blogspot for this photo. I borrowed it without asking; it just
seemed so perfect for today. Thanks, tworque.

Last Thursday I attended a funeral. Tomorrow, Thursday, there is another one. A woman at my church suddenly died. She was about my age. Her husband came home and found her dead.

I didn't even know she had heart problems. In fact, there was a lot about her I didn't know. This is what I did know: she faithfully attended a monthly Women's Night Out gathering that our church started about a year ago. After I stopped attending, she asked me why I wasn't there. [Oh! I didn't think she would have noticed or cared.] She loved dogs. She did doggie foster care and spoke lovingly of the dogs in her care during the Joys and Concerns time at church.

She had a smile on her face almost always. She was so cheerful that... I'll admit... I thought she verged on being too silly. So when she talked to me last Sunday, and I was running out to my car, I kind of half listened and said "oh, really?" over my shoulder as I ran on to my "more important" tasks for the day. The next day she died.

Gulp. She had been working on a project to present to a nearly 97-year-old woman from our church who is moving out of town to be near her relatives. She had been trying to tell me about it as I ran so busily past and brushed her off.

Lesson learned: be friendly at all times, not just when it feels good for ME, but at each and every encounter, even if I don't feel like it. Now I get to live with my knowledge that at my last encounter with B., I was not in the least bit friendly. I feel so bad. She was nothing but nice to me every time we spoke. I was not... now I can thank her for the lesson she taught me. I pledge to try to be friendlier to everyone I encounter, even if I don't feel like it. Even if I feel too busy. Even if what I am running off to is "more important." It is not more important. Thank you, B., for helping me learn. RIP.

Today I am thankful for:
1. Learning, even when it's hard
2. Book club
3. Spring blossoms
4. Fabulous teachers (one I used to work with is highlighted in today's paper)
5. Energy and enthusiasm of my students


Beth said...

Nice tribute, Carol! We all have so much to learn...

Living on the Spit said...

Wonderful post.

I have been there so many times where I just wish, if I had just one more chance...there is just so much I would change.

That is a constant reminder in my head when I am feeling rushed or not so interested...I remember what I wish for most...just one more chance.

You are such an inspiration to me.

Biddy22 said...

I have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. Thanks for the reminder that life is unpredictable and too short.

I am Booper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
I am Booper said...

Love this post! I can relate on so many levels. Thanks for the reminder. :)

Megs said...

Oh Carol... What a good post. B was a sweet woman - that I don't think enough of us gave attention to. I used to chuckle about her prayer requests for "Jack" - but loved the sincerity and genuine concern and love that came with them (especially as a dog person myself, I can relate). She will be missed - and think we have all learned so much from her.

Melissa said...

This is a very nice post Carol and I think she'll be on your welcoming committee.

My first experience with B was very odd, but after that she was always kind to us and commented on how cute the girls are. It will be very odd not to see her across the aisle on Sunday mornings. She always wore very festive and holiday clothes, which I thought was cute.

Lisa Boyer said...

A very good lesson. Thank you.

Jo said...

I read something very interesting the other day. "Always treat everyone as if they are going to die at midnight." It is a good lesson, and often one learned too late.

My condolences to you for the loss of your friend. I know you feel very sad.

08armydoc said...

What a sad story, but a "nice reminder" Carol. It's something we always forget and need to be abruptly reminded of occasionally.

What I'm thankful for:

1) Nice patients I've made a connection with
2) Nice neighbors
3) Furry warm cats
4) Budding spring trees and happily growing new grass seed
5) An "excuse" to get out of the hospital for a week
6) Gorgeous hiking trails nearby
7) Amazing coworkers
8) Well-done procedures, and the newly "won" ability to do them on my own
9) An upcoming graduation, with its associated freedoms and responsibilities
10) Happy warmth when I want it, gracious coolness othertimes


Victoria said...

Oh my... I hope you are not to hard on yourself, Carol, and I commend you for sharing this and reminding us all of what is important. She reminded you, and you remind us. Thank you!

I also learned a bit of this last month. My dear dog Mo was having a really good day health wise, and she came up to me with a toy wanting to play. I told her, "Later Mo, Mommy's got some work to do" and ran off to the computer. An hour later she had her stroke and I thought she would never pull through. I held her and cried my eyes out... not just at the thought of losing her, because I have had to do a lot of preparing for that ever since her cancer diagnosis, but for brushing her aside when she wanted to play. It tore me up that I did that. I was lucky, and got a new chance, but I took it as a lesson learned... hoping I always remember. xo


Thankful for today.

nice words Carol!

pragzz said...

(you can borrow pictures from my blog anytime, even without asking! :-)).

Lovely tribute. I'm reminded of this absolutely beautiful talk that world-renowned conductor Ben Zander gave recently (link below). I think it will speak and resonate very strongly with you.

Sharon said...

Beautifully said. Thanks for reminding us of what's truly important.

Clare said...

Beautifully written.

Don't be too hard on yourself.