Tuesday, May 27, 2008

What Remains...

“Your life will become about your relationships.”

An incredibly wise woman I know relayed the preceding sentence to me once during an interview. We were discussing employment and illness, and it was something someone said to her when she was grieving the loss of her professional life and career.

Your life will become about your relationships.

What that means, of course, is that your life will be defined by the bonds you make with other people, not by titles or promotions. That your life’s richness will be assessed by the lives you touch, the love you give and receive, not the paycheck you bring in or the billable hours you accrue.

It’s a simple sentence, really, but a reality check indeed.

This sentence has been on my mind a lot these days, for reasons that reach far beyond questions of employment and career aspirations. The life of someone I had the privilege to know ended far too quickly, far too awfully. I can’t begin to imagine the loss her friends and family are experiencing, and I won’t attempt to try. Sometimes it’s just not your story to tell.

But what I do think is appropriate to mention is just how many people mourn her, how many people miss her smile, remember her warmth, claim to have been touched personally by her upbeat attitude.

Such was a life lived about relationships, for relationships. In terms of life and death, it doesn’t get clearer than that.

In so many smaller ways, this sentiment is a reminder for everyone, healthy or chronically ill. There are losses and setbacks, disappointments and diagnoses. We miss events and cancel plans, and things just don’t go according to plan. We resign from jobs or switch paths, and it isn’t always what we want…

But if we work towards living a life that is about the people in it, then much remains.


Emily said...

so true. a good reminder.

Girl, Dislocated said...

That's incredibly sad, and so very awful for everyone who knew her.

"your life’s richness will be assessed by the lives you touch" This is something I truly believe in. I don't worry about dying young; I worry about dying before I've had a chance to be a helpful presence. I often ask myself: if today is the end of the line for me, how useful has my life been? Have I helped anyone I've crossed paths with?

Tragedies such as this one really make you see how flimsy and unreliable the concept of "later in life" is.

britta said...

I too live by the relationships i have gained through my diseases trials and tribulations...

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