Learning and Showing Up

Reminded today of the power of just showing up – funerals, weddings, birthdays, various life evvents.  So often I can talk myself out of showing up because of the perceived awkwardness of doing so.  Julia Kasdorf takes that head on in her beautiful poem – What I Learned from My Mother, a good read, which in part goes as follows:

“I learned to attend viewings even if I didn’t know the deceased, to press the moist hands of the living to look in their eyes and offer sympathy, as though I understood loss even then.  I’ve learned that whatever we say means nothing, what anyone will remember is that we came.”

This in turn pointed my memory to a This I Believe essay by Deidre Sullivan, which I pulled up and listened to again.  At age 16, against her wishes, her father drives her to the viewing for a 5th grade math teacher so that she can go inside.

“When the condolence line deposited me in front of Ms. Emerson’s shell-shocked parents, I stammered out, “Sorry about all this,” and stalked away.  But for that deeply weird expression of sympathy delivered 20 years ago, Ms. Emerson’s mother still remembers my name and always says hello with tearing eyes.”



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