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9.15.2011

fwd: to busy for a friend.


From: Charlotte
To: Holly H.
Subject: Fwd: To Busy For A Friend

One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers. That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" she heard whispered. "I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!" and, "I didn't know others liked me so much," were most of the comments. No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on. Several years later, one of the students was killed in Vietnam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature. The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin. As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. "Were you Mark's math teacher?" he asked. She nodded: "yes." Then he said: "Mark talked about you a lot." After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher. "We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it." Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him. "Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said. "As you can see, Mark treasured it." All of Mark's former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk at home." Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put! his in our wedding album." "I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary" Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. "I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued: "I think we all saved our lists" That's when the teacher finally sat down and cried. She cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again. The density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day. And we don't know when that one day will be. So please, tell the people you love and care for, that they are special and important. Tell them, before it is too late.

My grandmother forwarded me this email yesterday. I'll start by saying that I, like most, have a love/hate relationship with email forwards. Usually I'll get through a couple of lines and then delete it, but this was different. Luckily my grandmother knows me well enough to know what types of emails I will find completely intriguing and which I could care less for. This was one that really hit me. I received it via my phone while I was lying in bed last night with my latest book [By the way, totally possible that this was at 9:16pm too, and I was on the verge of falling into a deep slumber-don't judge]. As I scrolled through the first few lines, it captured my full attention and brought on actual emotion- it's not often, if ever, a forwarded message has evoked real emotion out of me. Yet I realized quickly that this story was more than some sort of chain mail. I can't say whether or not the story is real, but in the wake of 9/11 and the latest War on Terror I could see it being a legitimate possibility back when Vietnam occurred. I will begin my reflection by saying the message in this story is one of the hardest lessons for people to learn. I posted just last week about how you don't know what you have until it's gone, and that things happen in life unexpectedly and we have to remember to say thank you to the important people in our lives before it's too late. The tragedy of this story is probably that most of the people in that room regretted not telling Mark how much they cared for him prior to his death. The students shared their thoughts anonymously only, or so the teacher assumes. The point is, why is it so many people struggle putting emotion into words? Why is it so many people trip over speaking up? Personally, I sometimes don't share thoughts with people because I am afraid of them either; A. not being reciprocated or, B. fear of becoming vulnerable. At the end of the day, life is too short to not share with someone how you feel. Worst things that is going to happen is they don't feel the same way about you. So what? I guarantee you will feel so much better knowing that if that person were to disappear from your life tomorrow, they knew exactly how you felt. The person who shared too little will seemingly always live more in regret than the one that shared too much. It reminds me of my high school quote that was published in the yearbook my senior year; "As you grow older you'll find the only things you regret, are the things you didn't do." -Zachary Scott. Every experience should be treated as something to grow and learn from, whether positive or negative. Mark's friends, in the wake of his death, probably felt similarly. Today you should reach out to friends, family or acquaintances and share one thing with them they may not already know about what they mean to you. Even if it just means reiterating something you have already told them, it's just as important. If all they respond with is "Yeah, I know", don't feel defeated. You will feel a lot better in the long run knowing that you have instilled your thoughts in them so deeply that there isn't a shadow of a doubt that when it is their turn to pass [or for you to], that they knew how you felt.



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