11/11/11. Veteran’s Day. A date once-in-a-century, once-in-a-lifetime. People feel like they should do something significant. We honor our vets; we do big things, like get married, or little things, like honk a horn at 11:11.
But if you think about it, isn’t every day once in a lifetime?
Why do we wait for days like this to do and say significant things?
This morning at 11:11 on 11/11/11, Nathan and I were just leaving the memorial celebration of a great man, Kevin (Ryan‘s dad). Kevin just did life right. He loved well, and much. His life mattered deeply to the people who filled the church this morning. They remembered him as someone always smiling, always laughing, always giving, always accepting. More than anything, they spoke about the enormous amounts of grace he extended to everyone around him – because he was aware of his own need for it.
Kevin’s service made me think a lot – about how I want to be remembered, about how I want to spend my days, about how we sometimes wait until someone’s gone before we talk about what they meant to us. Fortunately, I don’t think that applies to Kevin. He knew he was loved, and his family knew he loved them.
Nathan and I got to know Kevin only briefly since we moved here, but we feel lucky to have been in the home he shared with his wife of more than 40 years, Pam, and to have seen his gentle way. He’s the kind of man that makes an impression.
Kevin’s loss marks a new era in our circle of friends, one that includes seeing each other through the loss of a parent. There’s no formula for that; no way to we can take away any of Ryan and Amy’s grief, but we’ve done our best to stand beside them in solidarity on this painful road.
For Kevin’s family, 11/11/11 was a day to celebrate his life. For other families, 11/11/11 was a day to say thank you to Veterans that never came home, that are far away now, or that have returned safely after much sacrifice.
Tomorrow, in contrast, is “just” another day. It’s not a national holiday; it’s not a date people will necessarily remember. But, I want to make 11/12/11, and every day that follows, a significant one. I don’t want to wait until I lose someone to say thank you, I love you, your life matters to me. I want to be like Kevin. I want people to think of me when they think “grace.” I know I am not there yet, but I will keep this lesson with me. Thank you for that, Kevin.
We aren’t promised tomorrow. Make today count!