“Everything is determined by forces over which we have no control.
It is determined for the insect as well as for the star.
Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust
– we all dance to a mysterious tune,
intoned in the distance by an invisible piper“.
Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)
This words above were read at the funeral of a friend, Jim Bailey, last Saturday. His son Ian had gotten the call to come home, and as he waited on Christmas Eve in the Denver airport, for his flight back to northern Vermont to say goodbye to his father, he looked up, and written on a succession of rafters, this quote revealed itself; one line at a time. He said that he had never noticed it before. I had never heard this quote either.
I hadn’t seen Ian since he was a senior in high school, 15 years ago. He was a kid. I can’t remember a word he said back then.
On Saturday, I sat listening to a man speak about his father; about making the most of this life, about the passage of time, about the uncertainly of life, and as he spoke, I saw Jim in him; funny, bright, caring, full of life, and love. Jim must have been so proud of the man Ian has become…is becoming….life unfolding, growing, expanding outward.
I stayed with friends on Friday evening, and at dinner that night, we talked about Jim and also about death. A question that came up was, “If it was you who had passed, and your friends were gathered here talking about you, what is the one thing that you would want to hear them saying; what do you want to be remembered for?”
What I most remember about Jim Bailey is his smile and his kindness to everyone. At Christmas one year, he gave me a hand-blown glass plate that I adored. It is still one of my favorite Christmas decorations to unwrap and put out. It always reminds me of him. When the email came, saying that he had passed away on Christmas day, I was overwhelmed with emotion, and with the sense of mystery that there is an unseen pattern/order to life.
What do I hope will be said of me when I am no longer here? I love that question. I want to be remembered as someone who made a positive difference in this world. What about you? I invite you to answer this question here on the blog if you would like to.