There have been four deaths within my world in the past couple of weeks.
One was the death of my brother-in-law from cancer. Hank was a retired medical doctor who specialized in wellness care. Although we weren’t terribly close, I respected his work ethic and his wanting to reorient the medical world from a focus on illness to the prevention of illness through lifestyle choices.
The second death was that of a neighbor’s 18-year-old son in a car crash. (The driver in the opposite lane lost control of his car in icy conditions.) Henry was beloved by many for his many accomplishments (violinist, competitive rower, math whiz) but especially for his humility, helpfulness and humor.
The third death was that of Victor, a handyman/landscaper in our neighborhood. Although he was estranged from his own family, he was known to neighbors for his kindness and work ethic. He never failed to wave and smile at me when I drove by him in the neighborhood. One of my neighbors organized an informal memorial for Victor at the community center.
The final passing was the mother of one of my oldest friends. She was an accomplished stage actress, although not a ‘name’, and known for her calm, steady presence in any cast. She was the person everyone would go to for her kind listening and practical advice.
As I reflect on these deaths, what stands out for me is what we choose to remember about others. In every case, very little of what we treasure about the other people is what would show up on a job resume. No matter how impressive their accomplishments, what we remember is how they treated others in their lives.
A friend of mine recently left public school teaching after decades of service to become a community liaison with the sheriff’s department. Although he had been active as a community volunteer his whole life, he had no direct experience in the role he was offered. But for as long as I’ve known him, he’s been a helper, and someone who never gives up on others.
He was told by the sheriff’s department, “Your life is your resume.”
In the final reckoning, our life IS our resume. Whatever we accomplish may or may not be remembered, but people will remember the essence of who we were, and how we made them feel when they were with us.
May we pursue our paths, sharing the most important part of ourselves wherever we go,