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Seventeen Minute Memorial for a Miracle
I’ve been thinking about her again. She still haunts my thoughts a year later. I know she’s gone, but is this what she would want? She was planning her wedding, you know. He told me the same day he asked me to live her dream. And let me tell you, her dream life is a long way off. Where do I begin? After living in the shadows for so long, when she came into my life it was like sunlight into a dark room. She lit up my world, though I still had trouble talking to strangers. What I never realized was that I wasn’t the only one.
Obviously, I agreed to try to fill the shoes of the angel who pulled my world from the grave before departing to her own. She left me an envelope with a list of names, passwords, problems, secrets. I have no idea how she kept them all straight, I know I never could have. Until now anyway. She was a miracle worker. No… she was really just a miracle.
I wish she would come back. I wish she had lived just a little longer. I wish I had no way to blame this on myself. I wish I had the slightest idea what I was doing. I wish I could bring myself to read the last page of the last thing she ever wrote.
Sometimes, I wonder how she knew. I mean, most people don’t write farewell letters unless they’re planning to kill themselves. And she would never kill herself. This is, in fact, the only thing on the police report that I agree with. That girl could take anything, anything and walk away unscarred. I know she could. But then, how does a miracle walk away dead?
I wonder what made her write that letter. I wonder whether she wrote out the story and the rules for everyone, or just some of them. And if she only recorded some of them, how did she decide? More than that, I wonder how she decided who should be assigned to whom. In the envelope she gave me three people to help, with directions almost. She described her perspective of their personality, listed their interests, described what they had gone through and what they were going through. She described their circles or trusted people in immense detail – she knew who knew what and even listed what she suspected was coming.
That was the first few pages in the envelope. Next was a directory of sorts. It had the names, phone numbers, email addresses and facebook accounts of all of the others who were assigned to help out with the miracle work. The list was long, and two of the three I was helping were on the list, which surprised me. But it my mind, the next page is the most important.
She wrote me a letter. A personalized letter, straight from her heart. I’ll read you some of it, if you promise not to laugh.
Oh! That’s a quirk of hers. She calls all the girls Beautiful. Don’t know about the guys though. Maybe I should ask.
Before you start reading, I want you to promise me something. I want you to promise that you’re going to read this entire letter. If you don’t think you can do that, stop reading now, and return the entire envelope to the person who gave it to you. But if you return the envelope, you will never have a chance to get it back. Well, what will it be?
It took me a good twenty minutes of staring at the sheet of paper before I realize that it was a challenge. And that the rest of the letter was not on this page. She always was like that.
Of course I kept reading. It wasn’t like anyone would know even if I did give up later. Unless they did. But I still can’t believe she left everything in the hands of, you know, a guy. I mean, she even always called herself a feminist! I did meet him though. He was nice, I guess. She must have seen something good in him if she was going to marry him. Still, I don’t like him because if she got married, she would’ve been taken away from me.
That doesn’t make sense, does it? I mean, she dedicated all of her time to helping, like, everyone. She was never mine. She had a boyfriend, she had little siblings and even parents who relied on her. But more than any of that, she had other people like me. At the very least, everyone in the directory, and each of their assignments. But, back to her letter.
So, you’ve decided to take my challenge? Good. It will make every day your best and your worst. I would totally put one of those cheesy little phrases here right now – “Things might get tough, but don’t ever give up hope!” but I of all people know that’s not possible. But you can do things to make life easier. And some of them are hard. But all of them are entirely worth it.
But before I can talk about you, I have to talk about other people. There is something that everyone needs. (Well, two somethings.) And that something (the first something) is a circle. That is, a circle of people. A circle of people that they can turn to when things are hard. And you, my friend, you are not a circle. A circle is a collection of curvy points, and you are a point on the circle. But alone, you are not a circle.
And that can be hard to swallow.
As a point on a circle, though, you have a very important job. The first part of your job is to listen. I listened to you, so you have an idea of how I did it. You start by talking to people. Friendship is important. Fact: everyone loves to talk about themself. Find out what they like to do, their interests, their line of work. You might be surprised what you find out, and don’t be shy to say as much. Compliments are fantastic inventions and insults are not to be poked with a ten-foot pole.
I’m sure you’ve noticed before, when someone looked or sounded or otherwise seemed upset. Well, now that you’ve accepted your job, that is not something you just let go of. It doesn’t take much. “Hey, are you okay?” is a lifesaver. Literally.
There are other phrases for this purpose as well. “What’s on your mind?” “How are you doing?” “Are you feeling better?” “Do you want to talk about it?”. If they decide to trust you, you may have to make a promise. The promise is that you will not repeat to anyone what they tell you in confidence, and there are three exceptions. There are only three exceptions.
If you believe their life is in immediate danger.
You have their direct permission. And,
Jesus, who will hear everything they tell you, twice.
Information given to you is to be shared on a need-to-know basis.
Unless they ask for it, it is not your job to give advice. You may ask questions – “Why do you think that?” “What’s your opinion on that?” - or prompt and affirm them. “Okay”, “Alright.” “And?” “Yeah.” “Cool.” But it is not your place to give advice, unless they specifically request it. Ever.
You’re not alone in this project, and I wasn’t either. You are only one point on the circle, and it wouldn’t be a circle without multiple points. The other points on the circle are there to help you.
Your job as a point is to to find the people that need circles, do what you can to help them, and then take them to another piece of the circle. They will most likely still come to you with at least some of their queries, but your job is to give them a circle. Introduce them to the other points on the circle. This might be hard, but you won’t lose them. With a lot of prayer and a little help (or maybe the other way around) you can do this.
And that is your assignment. I wish you luck always. I pray you’ll have favor. And I do my best to keep my promises – I’ll check in from time to time. You’re surrounded by angels, whether you can see them or not.
And that’s her letter. Well, not all of her letter. I skipped about two pages. There was more in the envelope. A few cautions, and things to watch out for. The best people to help with what situations. Her favorite Bible verses. He also gave me a Bible when he gave me the envelope, which had his phone number in it. And now I’m trying to live her dreams. Or at least her life. Well, really only part of it.
She also did one more thing before she left. She made a park reservation, and planned for all of us to meet. The event is next weekend. I imagine I should be looking forward to it, but I’m not really sure. I’ll admit I’m nervous. But she told me that these are all people I can trust. And I trusted her. So I suppose I ought to trust them too. And I wonder how she’s planning to pull off a party eleven months after her funeral.
But, you know, she’s a miracle. She’ll figure it out somehow. Maybe I’ll finally get to meet all of these families of hers. That was another quirk – she treated everyone, even strangers, like family. Always. I’ll read one more piece from her letter.
Remember one thing, though, always. Your life is worth more than you could ever imagine, and it always will be, no matter how bad you feel. And you’re beautiful. I’ll miss seeing your face, Beautiful, so don’t forget about me.
Well, I suppose she deserves a break after all the work she did. After all, she did save my life.