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What Will They Say?

Several days ago, I got a text message telling me that a former colleague and friend had passed away unexpectedly. I had seen her recently and she was her usual happy self. We made plans to get together for lunch soon. I guess none of us realized that her days here on earth were coming to a close.

Recalling our past relationship

She and I had had a somewhat tumultuous relationship during part of the time we have known one another. Through a political move at a government agency where we both worked, she had been moved in as my boss. I felt like it was an unfair move – I thought (and still do think) that I deserved that job – and I resented her for it.

That was pretty unfair of me because she actually had nothing to do with getting the job and honestly, she didn’t really even want it. She was a bright, intelligent person and soon enough, she learned what she needed to know to be a competent manager of our grants department. Nevertheless, our relationship remained somewhat rocky until I finally moved to another job. The strain was alleviated at that point and we could become friends.

Positive things may be the most memorable

Funny, though, when I think about her, I don’t remember the bad times we had, even though those are how I started this post. What I remember most about her, despite our early start, was her generosity, big smile, humor, and desire to have fun.

Given our beginning, I found it kind of odd that I would remember only the really positive things about her. I only vaguely remember the strained relationship and now that I can look back on that, I have to take most of the credit for the strain (I am sorry to admit).

But, this post is really not written as a tribute to my friend, Louisa. It is written because I have been so struck by all of the comments that have been appearing on her Facebook page. She was well-loved and most people remember her for her smile and humor … and her singing. I didn’t even know she could sing, but apparently, she was quite good at it.

Do our loved ones know how appreciated they are?

As I read through the posts on her Facebook page, I am struck by several thoughts. I wanted to see what you guys think.

  • I wonder how many people told Louisa how much they admired her while she was still alive? Was she aware that so many people thought so highly of her? Or, did we always think there would be tomorrow? Or, worse, did we just take for granted that she knew that she was appreciated? And, I wonder how many people, like me, made plans for the near future, never dreaming that they wouldn’t come to fruition because she would no longer be here to participate?
  • I definitely wondered what people would say if it was me they learned had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away? Would people be clamoring to write nice things on my Facebook page? And, would I already have known that they felt the way they did or would it come as a surprise to me if I could read their comments?
  • I made a vow to be more vocal to living people about how much I admire them and why. The nice sentiments expressed after someone passes away are fine and good, but I think they would be far more meaningful if expressed to the living, breathing person. I know I am remiss in telling people how much they mean to me.

Making time to tell others we care

Louisa didn’t die from cancer. But, her death really made me reflect on what I should be doing. I don’t want my friends to die without knowing what I thought about them, how much I admired them … and why. Specifics matter so that they don’t just seem like empty words. For instance, “You are loved” is not the same as “I admire you so much for how you face your challenges with humor and strength.”

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