Last week, we laid to rest our son, Wil. It was, and is, difficult. As I reflect on it, I wanted to share with you Some Not So Final Thoughts.
When I read the newspaper or watch the TV news and when a story comes on about a gunshot victim or people dying in a plane crash, of course I’m saddened. No one likes to read or hear about death, especially to the young, certainly not children. However, there has not been the “personal” connection until my son, Wil, died in a homicide while taking a break and walking to a restaurant for noodles. Shouldn’t have happened to him, and it should not happen to others. But now it is difficult to read the newspaper or watch the TV news because those stories are all the more real to me, to Kim, and to Hannah and Emily. Too real.
When it was my turn to speak at the service, I didn’t say all I wanted to say . . . all I needed to say. I did the best I could, and I think Wil was okay with that. Yet . . .
I talked about his struggle learning the English language. For a new learner, it takes from seven to ten years to become fluent. Wil worked hard at it and there were some funny moments. In Wil’s ears, birds were “burps” and clouds were “ballooms.” Yes, I spelled it correctly, at least how Wil pronounced it. There was a cartoon that Wil liked and its theme song and lyric went: “looting and polluting, it’s up to you!” What Wil sang as he danced around the family room was: “oony ah balloony estass to you!” But it wasn’t all on Wil.
One evening, I wanted to tell Wil that I was a little upset at him for not working hard on his homework. My Spanish was and is awful, and I said, “Yo soy un poco mojado” but when he looked at me in wonder, I ‘corrected’ myself and said, “Yo soy un poco morado.” He laughed at me and I looked up what I said and found out that I told him I was “wet and purple.”
Those of you who read my posts regularly know that I use three phrases most, if not all, of the time and I use each phrase deliberately.
The first is: “Something to think about . . .”
I believe what we read, what we hear, and what we see should be considered and thought about. It should be reflected on. Obviously it is a choice whether one does so, but all of life has a lesson, some big, some small, and most can be applied to our lives. Reflection is important in the growing process. What did we learn? How does this apply? How might this change me? What can I do differently? What should I keep doing? What must I stop doing? All great questions. Evening works best for my reflection, but so does morning. We have a gift in each Morning (a previous post)- a ‘do over’. How great is that? We’re not bound by the past. We’re not doomed to repeating it. We can grow from it, learn from it, and each Morning, we get to begin again. But it all begins with “Something to think about . . .”
The second is: “Live Your Life . . .”
Your Life! Not someone else’s. Certainly not someone’s idea of what Your Life should be. It is yours to live! Wil didn’t necessarily do things the way I had wanted him to. Wil made his own way. Sometimes he struggled until he got it right. Sometimes he sought out my advice and went with it, but other times he sought it and didn’t use it. That’s okay. It worked for him, because it was Wil’s life, just like Your Life is yours! When you get in your car and drive to a destination, chances are there are several, if not many, ways to get there. Some might take you longer. Some might take only a short time. Yet, you arrive! You always do! Live Your Life . . . I have your back on that!
The third is: “Make A Difference!”
One can move through life without feeling, thinking and one can merely exist. One can move through life and use others, trample on them to get to their goal, their prize, their result. Or one can lift up, one can support, one can help along and encourage. And I believe in so doing, each of us is helped in perhaps greater measure. It makes the journey easier. The pain we sometimes have becomes, if not less, at least a little more bearable because it is shared. Our pain is, on some level, understood. Each day, each minute, we have a choice to make a positive impact on others. Judging by the comments shared with us on the In Memory of Wil Lewis page on Facebook and the comments shared with us at the visitation and the luncheon that followed the memorial service, Wil made a positive impact on many. And the beauty of it was that perhaps Wil was unaware he had done so. Wil just Lived His Life and in so doing, Made A Difference!
That’s all I really ask of you. Each of you. Each day, each moment. Just Live Your Life and Make A Difference! Not too much to ask, is it?
In Apollo 13, there is a scene when the three astronauts are in their little capsule. They aren’t sure if they will survive the reentry into the atmosphere. They aren’t sure if they will make a safe and soft landing. Their hands are in the hands of some unknown folks thousands of miles away. I don’t know the historical accuracy of the scene, but the character played by Tom Hanks turns to his partners and says, “Gentlemen, it has been an honor and a privilege.”
Wil, it has been an honor and a privilege to be your dad. It has been an honor and a privilege for you to be my son. A real honor and a real privilege. I regret that I wasn’t walking along the sidewalk with you July 12th. I regret that I didn’t have my arm around your shoulders and I regret that I didn’t tell you one more time how very proud I was . . . am . . . of you. I will live with that. But I will also live with the fact that you called us the day before, on July 11th to wish us a happy anniversary. We laughed because you weren’t sure of the date and we laughed because you had a bit of trouble remembering dates. The laughter was good, is always good.
Yes, it has been an honor and a privilege, Wil. Always. You had a positive impact on many and you probably didn’t even know you had. A life well lived. Very well lived. Something to think about . . .