Over the weekend, I was reading the book The Lovely Bones. (Yes, I'm aware that it came out 8 years ago. When you buy your books at the thrift store and garage sales, you don't always get the most current stuff.)
Anyway, the story is about a 14 year old girl who is murdered and then watches (and narrates) from heaven about how how her family and friends' lives continue to go on and how they were affected by her death.
And while it was interesting to hear how her parents relationship was affected (and her siblings to a lesser degree), the more interesting part of the book, to me, was reading about how her death affected the boy that she had a crush on and had kissed just a few days before her death. Or the girl that she didn't know well that was in her class at school. Or the police officer that handled her case.
And so then I got thinking about the people that have impacted my life.
There was, of course, The Boy. I met him when I was 13, almost 14. (I can't believe that I have a child of my own that is almost this age, but I digress.) We were playing softball. I enjoy sports, but honestly, I'm not that good at most of them. Especially anything that involves hitting a ball. Or a team. But today, today, I was having a good day. And since it was the first time I met The Boy, he didn't know that it was a Fluke Day. He was on the other team. He was playing shortstop and anytime that I could, I would sneak a glance over at him. And all of sudden, I realized that I liked him. I'd never liked a boy before now, and now I was 100% head over heels.
And that is part of the whole story of The Boy - that I liked him, and he was cute, and he liked me, etc. But it isn't the whole story. It would have been enough to probably remember him with fondness as the first boy, but he was able to affect me much more than on a hormonal level. He was Kind, so Kind. And Funny. And helped me see that the part of my life that seemed so dramatic, really didn't have to be. He showed me that it was possible to be everybody's friend without having to sacrifice being myself. Now, he showed me all of this, but I still couldn't always DO it. But at least I knew that it was possible. He gave me hope and a safe place to be when I really needed it.
And then, when I was coming out of all of that, he died.
I could tell you about how I cried for two years. Or how I spent the first year either trying to be perfect so that if I died, I would be able to be with him, or just doing nothing but laying on my bed, just wishing I would die.
And that, of course, is part of the story too. But the other part of the story is that now, 25 years later, I am still affected by The Boy. I don't cry every day anymore. But I'm often reminded of his kindness and I try to remember to be kind to others. I remember how funny he was, and I try to remember help others see the humor in life. I remember how he always stayed true to himself and I try and do that too. And I also know that I was able to get through his death. I was able to go on. I was able to finish degrees, I was able to be a wife, a mother. And I was able to go on when there were other moments when I just wanted to lie on the bed and wait to die myself.
And there have been others, so many others. There were two Youth church leaders that were there for me during those years that were always there to talk when I needed a grown-up to talk to. There was the man (I don't even know his name) who talked to me when I was ready to just leave school and camp in Yellowstone Park for the rest of my life, who helped me see that running away wouldn't solve any of my problems. There was the friend who when I was in a deep, dark place, just held me. There was the professor who convinced me that I was a good writer and that I would make it at that first big job in downtown Chicago.
And there was the woman who came to see me, just days after Christopher died. I knew her, but not well. She was more friends with my parents. But she said that she felt drawn to come see me. She brought me a plant and a card. And then she said "Tell me about your son." And I told her. Two days later, she fell asleep at the wheel, crashed her car, and died.
There have been others beyond these people here. And of course, my family and friends have touched me too. But I wonder when the day comes that I die, will there be lives that I touched too? Not just my friends and family, but those less obvious ones? Because I don't know what I would have done without these people who touched my life, and yet I'm fairly certain that not one of them have any idea of their impact.
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