Once in a while we meet someone who not only touches our own life, but the lives of many, with immeasurably positive outcomes. Immeasurable just because of the sheer number of people that they have influenced. Extravagant actions, self promotion and high profile recognition are totally foreign to this person.
This is the person who we miss most when they are not there any more; who we might take for granted and only realise just how important they are to us when they are no longer in our lives. This individual see’s beyond their own day to day worries, they put their own needs aside when others’ needs are more urgent. And they listen.
This is the person who can organise, who encourages, persuades and gently cajoles. This is the person who coaxes others out of a bad place, who arbitrates in times of discord, who see’s the positive in all situations and the best in all people. And they will always remember you.
Often an unsung hero or heroine, they may not hit the headlines with raising funds for deserving charities, they may not be the one-time absailing or parachuting fundraisers, but if they have a cause it will be a long term commitment that they will support through thick and thin.
Surrogate mum or dad for those away from home for the first time, surrogate big sister or brother for those who have no family but need support in the way that a sibling might provide it. A deep sense of empathy and sympathy defines them, their good humoured nature a cover for their deep emotional intelligence. But above all this is a practical person – hands-on helper, supporter, fixer and enabler. None of their support and advice will ever allow the supportee to wallow in self pity for too long. They will pick you up, but more importantly they will know how to encourage you to pick yourself up. They will know how to focus and refocus you. And that is because they will really know you – because you have trustingly let them get close – your trust is never betrayed.
This person may have set you on your career path, because they believed in you, saw your potential when others did not, they may have pushed you to explore and to extend yourself beyond your own perception of your capabilities. They will have seen something in you that maybe even you did not immediately recognise.
This is a person who we never can, or ever will, forget. The happy memories will be long lasting. They endure over time, their presence and influence still keenly felt long after they have gone. Their absence may not be permanent, there may be reunions to look forward to, and those occasions are joyful ones that are filled with feelings of “picking up where we left off” irrespective of the amount of time that has passed. When the absence is a permanent loss, the inevitable feeling of sadness will eventually give way to fond memories, flashbacks to shared experiences, recollections of parties and fun days, lazy days in the pub, raucous nights in the clubs, and sore heads after partying too hard – but above all there will be laughter. There will always be laughter. The laughter may give way to tears – and those tears will be joyous and sadness combined in equal measure. And just as the laughter and tears between you in life were healing, so after life your own tears mingled with others will offer a healing, as you hear that person in your memories through the crying, and soon you will hear the laughter again.
I am of course writing this about a specific person, but in conversations with others I have come to realise that many of us have a person like this in our lives. In a world that is rife with troubles it gladdens the soul to know that there are people who can be role models, who can show the way, who can support others along the expedition of life and it’s twists and turns, up’s and downs. Perhaps more importantly, if they can do it – we surely should be able to follow their lead. Now that really would be a legacy. The opportunity to be the next ripple and ensure that not just the memory, but the actions, that epitomised that one person are carried forward and increased is ours to embrace.
Dedicated to JDAb. With the love of many.