Maya Angelou said that people will forget a lot things about us, but they will never forget how we made them feel.
So often, part of missing someone, whether they’ve passed away, or a relationship has ended, or there has been some type of distance, that is what is missed: how they made us feel.
And it can be hard to separate from missing the actual person. Because our feelings remain, long after the people who gave them to us are gone.
I think, oftentimes, there is a certain loss of innocence that goes along with each loss of a physical someone in our lives.
Because relationships have so many intangible things attached to them.
Things like hope.
And those kinds of things are often built from a very innocent foundation.
When that person is taken from us, in whatever way, it can be very easy to feel as though something has been stolen from us.
I attended a funeral yesterday, as is often the case, for someone I had never met. I was there for a friend. A show of support. Of love.
It seems to be a rare occurrence for there to be an actual eulogy given at funerals in this part of the country, at least that has been my experience. I have only attended a handful of funerals where someone close to the departed stood up and actually gave some insight into the person being memorialized.
But there was a eulogy yesterday.
And I left feeling like I had, in fact, known the man who was being remembered.
Because of how this man’s brother spoke of him. It was clear in his tone, in his words, the way that his brother had made him feel throughout his life. And that emotion carried throughout the church. And I could feel the love that was shared among this family.
We seem to forget just how much power we have, in terms of the people around us and how our words and actions affect them. I’m as guilty of it as anyone. Not being considerate enough.
I think one of the reasons people love the Christmas season so much is because of how it makes them feel.
The giving of gifts, the outpouring of generosity – these things are special not only because of tangible value, but because of what they mean. How they make us feel.
I always kind of laugh when I think back on some prior Christmases.
My daughter’s father and I married very, very young. 17 and 18. And, to be quite honest, it was a very tumultuous relationship. And I don’t have just a ton of good memories of our time together. But the ones I do, I cling to like life support. Just to remember that, in addition to our daughter, we did have some happiness. It wasn’t all for naught.
Our first Christmas as a married couple, we didn’t have a tree. We were so very broke. Had only been married for 3 months. Trying to prove ourselves.
I got sick. Had a bad case of the crud. I was working retail and I’m pretty sure I worked that Christmas Eve….
I didn’t get him anything that year, I don’t think. And I wasn’t expecting anything. He and I had both been working and hadn’t had time or money to get gifts. Our relationship was not one big of gift-giving anyway.
When I got up Christmas morning, there were gifts for me.
While I was sleeping, he had gone to the all night convenience store and gotten me cold medicine, cough drops, and some of my favorite candy.
It was, to this day, one of the most memorable gifts I have ever received.
Because of the unexpectedness of it. Because of the heart behind it.
I will tell anyone I meet just how little I get along with my ex. And even now, 13 years after our split, I deal with issues created from our relationship.
But there were times when he made me feel special. And loved. And even when, to this day, I want to literally choke him, I find myself, more and more, choosing to focus on the times I felt positively.
Because bad doesn’t always negate good.
Sometimes it does. Sometimes it has to.
But not always.
I wonder, as I often do after attending a funeral, how I will be remembered.
I think it’s clear, from the rise of social media, just how deeply we all hold the need for validation. Acceptance. Love. To be made to feel as though we’re special.
The most popular posts I’ve written here at a Pensieve View have usually involved my tributes to people I love.
I hope that my life is remembered because of how I made others feel. And that, when all is sifted away, how I made them feel was important.