A week ago, a co-worker from my waitressing days died unexpectedly. We were never very close, but she touched a lot of lives in her few, short years. I saw dozens of condolences appear on her facebook page, and even more attendees at her candlelight vigil. It reminded me of fourteen years ago, when I saw the same turnout for a classmate’s memorial service at my elementary school. It made me think about my own life a great deal.
I’ve never been one for late night parties or huge social gatherings. When my peers went out, I stayed in. Sometimes, I think my classmates forgot I even existed. I always held a certain respect for those who could make friends during these nighttime adventures. It takes me ages to get to know someone, but others can have an instant impact on the people around them. All it takes is a smile. I guess it’s the price I pay for living inside my head so often.
The death of my co-worker reminded me of an important promise I once made to myself. Before I moved from one coast to the next, I swore to live my life to the fullest. I would have great adventures, see amazing things, and meet all sorts of people. I would learn to smile more often. I would make friends. So far, I haven’t been keeping that promise. I let work and schedules absorb my life. I have lived twenty minutes from the Pacific for the past two months, yet I haven’t laid eyes on it. My co-worker never would have stood for this. My classmate would never have stood for this. I shouldn’t stand for it either.
We never know when we’ll draw our final breath. It could be when we’re a hundred or it could be tomorrow. But even without the promise of another day, there are some people who put living on the back burner, silently promising that tomorrow they’ll start working on their bucket list. I’m one of those people, and it needs to stop.
I thought about my co-worker all through IT class the day after she passed away. I wasn’t sure how to express what I was feeling in words. So instead, I wrote it out. It reminds me to go on a journey, seek and new skyline, and make some noise on the departed’s behalf.
So here’s to all the people who died too young, and to those who are still alive but have yet to truly live.
We’re here but for a moment –
a flash, a blink, a sigh,
a single breath in autumn rain
exhaled into the frigid sky.
We run through fields of winter snow,
prints quickly filling in our wake
like the waxing tides of summer seas,
our imprints their’s to take.
We bloom like flowers in the spring –
vivid, sudden, sweet –
gorgeous for the drop in time
before we’re stolen by the heat.
You were fleeting in this life,
and danced a single step before your leave.
But in that solitary leap you danced a song
more beautiful than eternity.