Friday, August 15, 2014

Lessons Learned

Like millions of people, I was astonished and so very sad to read about Robin Williams’ death earlier this week. As the days have passed since then, I’ve watched and read tributes to him and watched clips from many of the movies he made through the years. And, I have to admit, I’ve gotten choked up and have shed a few tears, too.

He was only 63. And he had such a gift. Sure, he was a comic genius and was able to make us laugh. But he was also able to make us cry. And to think. 

But I’ve also read many stories about his acts of kindness and generosity. And that, to me, speaks volumes. By all accounts, he was a good man. So even though I was merely a fan and didn’t actually know Robin Williams, the world seems a little dimmer without him in it.

And he was only 63.

Lauren Bacall also died this week. In contrast, she didn’t take her own life, but instead was felled by a stroke. And she was only 89.

Only 89?  I imagine you’re thinking, Surely that was a typo, wasn’t it?

And, okay, I will concede that at 89, Lauren Bacall lived a good, long life. Oh, and stop calling me Shirley.
(Yeah, if you get that reference, you might just be old, too!)

But my point is this: While a life well lived is a good life, to Lauren Bacall’s loved ones, eighty-nine is merely a number. And they are no less sad or grief-stricken because she has passed.

My grandmother was 95 was she died. And I was devastated. Not that her death was unexpected since she had been in failing health for a number of years. But I was still devastated. She had lived a good, long life, too. Yet I knew I was going to miss my Nanna for the rest of my life.

Most of the time I’m able to go through my days thinking that I’m going to live forever. Contemplating reality is not all that much fun.  But there are moments when I realize how fleeting life really is.

This week was one of those weeks for me. And I realize how quickly sixty-three years can go by. Or eight-nine. Or almost fifty-five. (Yeah, that would be me.)

There are moments I can’t believe how old I’ve gotten and I wonder where the years went.  And I lament the wrinkles around my eyes or the aches and pains from the arthritis that is beginning to invade my joints.

But in times like this, I need to remind myself to be grateful. To stop focusing on the little annoyances and instead be happy that I’m here. To live. To experience both joy and sadness. And to love – really love – the people with whom I share my little piece of the world.

So my hope is that we all can be a little more grateful and loving and generous with our time and our talents. I mean, the world should be a brighter place with us in it – shouldn’t it?

Thank you Ms. Bacall and Mr. Williams for sharing your talent and your light with us. I hope you’re at peace and are now shining among the stars. 

Say hello to my Nanna for me, will you?

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