A year ago I got some of the worst news of my life. Someone I loved dearly, someone I just assumed would always be around as long as I was, died suddenly, and at a relatively young age too. This past year has seen me pretty much at a loss trying to fully accept it and to move forward. Truth be told, you never really get over or past something like that. It’s just too shocking, too rage inducing, too sad….and too much. But, you can learn to incorporate the new reality into your reality. And you can find something positive to make of it, because there is always something positive to be made from what is left behind, no matter what.
The friend that I lost was largely responsible for a major positive turnaround when I was in my mid to late 20′s…when I’d lost faith that I’d ever overcome the circumstances of my life, and “make something of myself”. When it seemed that everyone who was supposed to love me the most had turned a blind eye, or their backs, or both–this person believed in me. I mean really believed in my potential, and even in who I was right then and there, because he didn’t seem to think there was a damn thing wrong with that either. And then a funny thing happened…I started to believe in me too.
If you’ve ever had someone like that in your life, when your life happened to be particularly hard, you’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about. If you’ve always been surrounded with people like that, and grew up with loving, unconditionally supportive family around you, you may not totally get it. But, I think just about everyone can appreciate the value of encouragement…sometimes it’s a special teacher, or a career mentor, a family member, a religious leader, a friend, etc.
I think it is Native American culture that honors those who have left this world by adopting one special trait that person displayed in life as your own. That has to be about the smartest thing I’ve ever heard. And it is definitely the best way to ensure that someone you loved, who was important to you, lives on forever. So today, January 11, the same date on the calendar that my friend left this world, I will make it a point to encourage someone who needs it, and to help them believe in themselves, because that is the thing that will make a lasting difference. I’d like to ask everyone who reads this to do the same.
Choose someone who is having a bad day…or a bad year…or maybe yet another day of what has been a chronically bad life. And then say something, or do something, that will make a difference to them. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, or anything that seems like a big deal. Trust me, it will mean the world to them and they’ll never forget it–or you…
“I am a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down”. ~ Abraham Lincoln