I’ve been trying to come up with something to write to welcome in the New Year, but it’s been a bit difficult. I envisioned writing something uplifting, touting a new start, new dreams, continued blessings… But the week prior to the new year ended in great sadness for our South Jersey community. The loss of an amazing young girl tragically taken from us on Christmas morning, on her way to help others as a volunteer firefighter. This particular tragedy was felt within our personal household as well, as this vibrant hero was my daughter’s friend. A shocking reminder that life is so fragile, and that every moment is incredibly precious within its own right.
Then, on New Year’s Day, after a week of reeling from that loss, I decided to tune into the Mummers Parade. A way to get lost in a little tradition, simple entertainment, and an escape of sorts from the less than cheerful reality that had taken place. But the day after New Year’s brought news of yet another horrific tragedy. This one in my beloved childhood home of South Philadelphia. Another horrid crash which took the lives of members of a Mummers’ organization who performed the day before in the very parade I tuned into for a welcome escape. More senseless loss of young life at what should be the most joyous time of year.
On top of these close-to-home events, other news of tragedies filled the airways. Too many to mention actually, but its mind numbing really; the amount of grief surrounding a season of hope, renewal and peaceful offerings. In truth, I struggle with laughter and levity when others suffer so intensely. It’s difficult to grasp the ‘whys’ and the ‘hows’ of such events and I know I’m not alone in my feelings of guilt for going about my day when others are struggling to get out of bed from the loss they have endured.
For those who have been called home way too young, I do truly believe that their time here was not in vain. I believe they were simply too good for this earth, and far ahead of most of us in climbing the rungs to heaven. Their impact on each and every person they met will resonate, perhaps longer than most who pass, because their brightness was evident so young. If we’ve personally been blessed to have shared a small piece of their time here on earth, it is our duty to keep their light lit, to live life to its fullest in a kind and decent way in remembrance of their short-lived journey.
To that end, instead of the lame resolutions we all make and fail to accomplish each New Year, how about this year we make one that actually matters, and we work every day to keep it? In memory of those lost too soon, and to honor those who are left to carry that grief, be kind and be present. Especially when it’s not the easiest choice to make. Never let a last word be one of anger or disinterest. Don’t allow tension to hang in the air; hug it out, agree to disagree, admit love for one another no matter how angry or disappointed you may be. You do not have to love every choice a person makes, in order to love them with your whole heart. Say “I love you,” and say it often.
The older we get, the clearer it becomes that tomorrow is not promised to any of us. Let your legacy be one of love, generosity and patience – that’s where your loved ones will find peace. I say this out loud not just for those reading this, but primarily as a reminder to myself… In 2019, let us all try harder… Every. Single. Day.
In memory of Natalie Dempsey, the hero who touched my daughter’s life personally, if you can, any small amount would help: GoFundMe