a month ago, a friend of mine from college died. like so many deaths and other important news, I found out about this unfortunate passing of this contemporary on Facebook. comeon.. who needs another news source?
in the minutes that followed the initial post announcing the passing of Spencer Cox, the outpouring of sentimental comments began. certainly, as I always do, I was at the head of the pack to say... how sad and sorry I was. in a matter of an hour, a memorial service date and location was announced, news unfolded, gossip ensued and articles were crafted in honor of Spencer's life.
today, the memorial service took place. it felt like there were 1000 people in the room, and the eulogies were funny, heart felt, sentimental and honest. there were a few lines today at the memorial service, that resonated. one of Spencer's best friends from high school said in her eulogy, "I had not idea that Spencer was such a big deal." in all honesty, neither had I.
throughout the room were people with whom I shared equal amount of time with at school, designing dramatic sets for plays, building sculptures, analyzing literature and getting high at parties. we are all friends on Facebook these days, liking each others' pictures, and keeping up with the happenings of our lives. I was surprised how my life seemed to actually be interesting enough to my fellow former school mates that they remarked on our adventures that I share online. what could I say back? I wasn't sure.
here I was, in a room full of people who felt this immense connection to Spencer, but as one of his friends remarked in his eulogy, everyone has a time where they have been disconnected from him. I hadn't really seen Spencer since college and our friendship of late was really rekindled electronically on Facebook. this is where so many of my "relationships" flourish. I related all too easily to the idea of being disconnected from people I love. I have my long laundry list of friends with whom ties were severed. sometimes just by life circumstances, and sometimes by some fight or altercation or... I just couldn't deal with them anymore.
I had no idea he was such a big deal.
I had no idea she had kids. I didn't realize he was living here, she was doing this, he had written that, she had worked here, he was working there, she had lost 100 lbs, he had remarried... I didn't realize they were such a big deal.
all too easily, I let the ties that connect me to others fray and inevitably separate. how can this possibly be the mark I have on others. is this my legacy?
there were a number of eulogies at today's service; a former partner of 8 years who sobbed, his Act Up compadres, his younger brother and mother, friends and more friends. I listened intently, and thanks to these people who were close to him, I discovered what a big deal Spencer Cox truly was. I had no idea.
as I reflect back on my own life since those youthful years, if my life were to end today... what would my legacy be? would people get up and speak about me? have I had a profound mark to leave upon the earth?
I've lived a very full life with adventures and experiences. lately, I've been depressed and down in the dumps. well not just lately, like for the past couple of years... feeling useless, unworthy, saddened by my own deterioration. I've lived with an attitude that I've lived my life, there's nothing else except to raise my son and live to nurture him so that he can be the special person he is destined to be. I've mistaken complacency for a sort of serenity, but that's not what living life is all about. is it? no.
watching this man's life unfold into a service in this way presented the usual cliche responses one gets from these kinds of things. I need to live every day like it's my last kind of yadda. but I think there was something more in it for me. I've become so settled in my isolation that I've removed myself from the human connections that give me so much joy. how well did I know Spencer? not well at all really. how well do I know my friends right now?
how well do you know a person?
if today taught me anything, it taught me the value of really knowing someone. of being a part of their lives beyond the electronic facade that eludes to human contact but doesn't authentically define a friendship the way a phone call, a coffee date or an act of kindness can. this has been a recurring lesson of the more recent months (and years) of my life. I've made more of an effort to call people I care about, to lean in and listen but am I doing enough? no. I can't hide in my lil cabin forever. I need to get out there, make those sparks fly between me and others and make my mark. because one day, as we all do, I am going to die. when my turn comes, I don't want to regret the idea that I didn't get to really know the people who skim the surface of my life. I want to dive deep, form those lasting connections and know love in all its forms.
how well do I know the people in my life? the wake up call for me is to cultivate more quality time for the relationships that make up the life I lead. if Love is the ultimate answer, it cannot be nurtured without authentic real-time relationships.