From the standpoint of eternity, there is hardly any difference between a “long” and a “short” life. Therefore, it’s not whether one’s life is long or short, but how one lives that is important. It is what we accomplish, the degree to which we develop our state of life, the number of people we help become happy—that is what matters.
Buddist Inspiration for Daily Living - Daisaku Ikeda
I attended a memorial service of a friend of Friday evening. I listened to his sister and then his friends pay very honest tributes to this kind and humble man, I looked around at all the familiar faces of so many friends that I had not seen, some of them for many years and for the hour or two that I was there, although ultimately a sad occasion, it was wonderful to re-connect with the past and so many friends and share great memories and stories.
Yesterday I spent a quiet day at home, busy with some work and my thoughts. I was also feeling so disappointed with myself that I had not made the effort to get to see him before he died. I knew he was in hospital and I had driven past the hospital a couple of times the previous week. He was constantly in my thoughts but somehow I did not have the courage to go in on my own. It was also a bit awkward to show up to see someone now ill, who you had not really made the effort to see while he was well.
I was thinking too about all the friends I had chatted to on Friday evening, some just brief "How are you? Where are your children? Any grandchildren?" kind of conversations and then two, also brief conversations with two "friends" that I do not even know that well. The one, asked me how my sons were coping after the death of their father nearly two years ago. He showed such amazing insight and caring and, if I could have I would have loved to have carried on chatting to him for much longer. The other conversation, as I was walking out of the door, was with a man who had recently lost his wife. I had done a course with his wife many years ago and we always shared a laugh about the course and about being the same personality type numbers. She was a very special lady. I asked him how he was coping and, in his usual light hearted way, told me how the weeks while working were fine but how lonely his weekends were. He went on to tell me how difficult mealtimes are and the little things we take for granted, of how he and his wife enjoyed sharing a bowl of food together and the ritual of their meals together. I gave him a hug and felt sad that he, now surrounded by all these "old friends", was having to go home alone and face the weekend. It is pretty special when in a couple of minutes you can chat to two people, share your feelings and open up to just because you are on a common ground.
I have made many friends and many have played a big part in my life at a particular time, then circumstances change, people move on and new friends come into our lives. Fortunately, there are those friends that remain constant and who we do spend more time with. However, it is at a memorial like the one on Friday that you realise that there are so many ties that bind us and that the death of one friend, who was the initial starting point in so many friendships and relationships, a man who brought so many together and kept people connected, is no longer with us and I will never share a laugh, a chat and a drink on the side of the rugby field with him again. The other sad thought was that the next time we get together will probably be at the next memorial. And that is pretty sad.
Life is short, life is full, life is good...
"Enough, Jennifer", she said to her self in her sensible voice.