We have all experienced it – profound loss. It comes in many ways, but for me it came again with the loss of a well-loved family member. She was a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, friend, and to me – she was an aunt.
We didn’t live in the same state, but I was lucky enough to see her frequently throughout my childhood and I always identified with her and loved her a lot.
I suspect she did not know that she had significant influence on me during those formative years. As a child I observed her as a role model, and I always felt affirmation from her anytime I opened my mouth to speak. When I approached those uncertain teen years, she never made me feel small or immature, no matter what I said. Our discussions made me feel as though I was as much an adult as she – and that my contribution to the conversation had equal value. My parents were active and supportive in my childhood, of course, but it was such a gift to me to gain confidence from someone outside the parental boundary.
She was famous for her quick and encouraging smile. I think we all benefited from that – and it was her God given gift. She never had to develop that asset.
So frequently we consider our relationship with a loved one after they have left this life. That reflection is so pure, and it leaves us with the wish that we could talk to them one more time just to tell them what they meant to us. While we may remember to show appreciation for our family & friends throughout their lives, it rarely has the depth of our own understanding that we seem to gain once they are gone.
Death is a cruel visitor for those of us left behind.
I hope and pray that sometime in my life I have the opportunity to positively influence someone – even just one person – the way she influenced me.