Yesterday my inbox was overflowing with emails from people with whom I have not spoken in many years- we came together virtually to honor and remember a special person who died too young. Yesterday would have been the 39th birthday of a boy with whom we went to grade school. He died at 19 of cancer and twenty years later he still affects my life.
Every life is special. Every child beautiful. But Aaron’s light burned brighter than most. There was a gentleness and a kindness to his spirit as well as an exuberance and joy. In my memory Aaron is always lit by the sun- running and smiling. Golden. He was the boy that every boy wanted to be like and every girl had a crush on. Which wouldn’t matter if it had just been that he was popular. But Aaron was popular because he was kind and good. He treated people well whether they were popular or not. You always knew Aaron was your friend. In junior high, when kids are brutal and cruel, Aaron led by example, changing the tenor of our class and our interactions with one another.
Aaron died twenty years ago and yet he is still present in the lives of those who knew him. His spirit lives in each of us- pushing us to be better people and better friends. His love of life makes us want to enjoy our lives even more. Because he would have wanted it that way. Because, had he been given the chance, he would have lived his life beautifully and fully as well.
So often we are led to believe that to make an impact on the world we must do big and bold things. But there are smaller ways that are powerful as well. One way I know this is the virtual gathering that occurred yesterday- people who took the time to mark the birthday of someone who (unbelievably and tragically) has been gone now for twenty years. Aaron reminded me that we all have the ability to leave our mark on the world in a positive way- from the very young to the very old. Whether we are here for 19 years or 99.
In our capacity to touch and be touched by others – we have the ability to make the world a better place in small and very important ways. So this Memorial Day weekend- surround yourself with friends and family. Love them and cherish them. Laugh and enjoy them. Be kind and good to them. That is one way to make an impact. It is one within all of our reach.