(Shoot like a Girl looks a bit different today. Because today we’re celebrating life).
Day 47: Oklahoma City
Our conversations are scattered about the Internet – he, a 20-something college student in India with the most amazing questions about faith and the now versus the not yet, and me, a 50-something learner in Texas who he calls Auntie because I am unafraid to share what I know and what I don’t about life and love and if any of it at all matters when the earth is imprinted with more of our footprints. The before-dawn conversation happened as I fought my hair and scoured the closet for the black dress that felt awkward for the moment, yet in line with a day that seemed to fend off color. Everything – all shades of gray, as if the sky mourned what was missing in the six-hour drive and the memorial celebration.
He wrote that he was weary of thinking about and analyzing life, trying to figure out its worth and his worth in a sea of 7 billion people. The pressure to be successful and be significant and be somebody threatened to swallow him.
I fought back the tears and typed the words:
“I’m going to a funeral today. My cousin’s. You have never heard of her. She never got married, never got anything more than an associates degree, worked for 25 years of her life as an office manager at a company you wouldn’t recognize. She was never famous, never rich, never did anything that folks might think changed the world.
“But she means the world to me. And I’d put her up against any big name with big ideas and big voice and big ego any day. She matters because she existed, because God whispered her name. And she whispered mine.”
I would drive six hours to stand in honor of a woman who stood for me. She was celebrated, not by crowds, but by those she poured her time and her love into. She didn’t need to be famous. She was known. The room was full at her celebration – full of family and friends who all had the same thing to say. She had been there, faithfully, always welcoming, always caring. She was blunt and she was bold and she was fearless in her love.
She had been my safe place. And she was now my memorial, my enduring tribute to a life well loved. He would be someone’s memorial too. I shared the words I had wept over and told to so many before him – and had spoken to myself over and over again.
“You are worth infinity more than anything you could ever make or write. God spoke stars into existence. But He did more with you.
“You are worth infinitely more because He shaped you. Hand-crafted, with the very fingerprints of His design pressed deep into your flesh, embossing it as His own.”
And so it is for you too, friend. As I consider the life of someone I loved so dearly, as I grieve with hope knowing she is joining an immense and radiant group of souls who are eagerly cheering us on to glory, I need to tell you just how valuable you are. To my friend in India – I know it’s difficult to understand in a world that screams “BE SOMEBODY,” but hold on to this truth: You are priceless, glorious, significant right now. To my faithful friends who have picked up backpacks and set course with me, hold on to this truth: You are my stronger wings. my arm-lifters – as my friend Melissa says, you are my better angels. And to you who I’ve not yet met (because I do believe we will always meet), hold on to this truth: You are loved, you are known, and you are someone’s memorial. You have brightened my day with your presence. What a beautiful gift.
I had the honor of crafting prayer cards and a special video for my cousin’s memorial service. I pray you’ll indulge me a bit as I tuck the video away here for safe-keeping.
Shoot like a Girl began as part of the #31days project. You can learn more about the “why” of my story and see all my daily posts here. I’d love to stay in touch with you – be sure to subscribe to my blog and visit my writer’s page to get updates on stories and special projects, including a collaborative that will publish this spring and a book about women who are fighting for change and beauty. Thank you for your encouragement!