Saturday, April 23, 2011

Our Own Histories

When we think of history we often go back centuries to some far off time and place and dig about to find what interests us.  However, if we look at our own lives, many of us have lived through amazing events in history.  Those who were alive during the Challenger Disaster, 9-11 or any number of the natural disasters that occur today have lived through some monumental history and each have thoughts and feelings about those life altering days.  We also have people in our lives and personal events that occur which can quietly slip away and be forgotten rather quickly in the fast paced world we live in.

One event from my own history is the establishment of an event in my community.  Over a decade ago, my good friend Sharen suggested we host a Cook-off in our community-filled with prizes, impartial judges, and award-winning recipes.  Under her impetus, we organized what became an annual event in our town for more than a decade.  A few years back, ideas changed and the Annual Cook-off became a thing of the past until recently I asked some of the young people I work with if they would be interested in having it again. They were excited about it and helped to organize and participant in it. As I walked into the building that evening, I was excited to see the tables all set and decorated with centerpieces that Sharen had made years ago and saved in the community closet for events like these.  But seeing these made me a bit melancholy since Sharen was not there this time . . . she had died quite unexpectedly of leukemia only a year ago. 

I took a deep breath and continued with the events of the evening.  We had added a new item this year to evening – live entertainment.  We had a young lady who composed her own music come and play her guitar and sing her songs for us. As I listened to her lyrics I could tell some of her own history as she sang of love, growing up, her sister and Oregon rain.  As I sat at one of the tables, listening to her songs I found myself staring at the centerpiece on my table.  It was comprised of three simple birds and painted eggs in a small aluminum bucket.  One of the ladies beside me saw me staring at it and mentioned that she had been looking at that all night and thought it was so cute.  She then asked me if I had made it. That question stunned me and I could only mumbled, “No, a good friend of mine did.” She again commented on how cute it was and the conversation ended.  I was just left there with that sentence hanging painfully in my mind.  I could have added so much more to my reply!  I could have added that the creator of the centerpiece was not just a good friend, but the best friend I ever had, I could have told her what an amazing person Sharen was, and how it was her idea to have these Cook-offs, and I could have mentioned that she died just a year ago this very week . . . I could have gone on and on an on but instead I just dug my fingernails into the palms of my hands to keep from crying.

This incident made me realize that all of us know people and participate in events that can be lost to common knowledge even within our lifetimes.  It motivated me to consistently take more time to write down my thoughts, feelings and ideas of what I experience that may seem mundane or that may be my own personal life-altering days. Everything seems so permanent but I have learned that situations can change rather unexpectedly and if memories are recorded in the pages of our own past they will remain, instead of fading quietly into the background noise of life.