I got one of those annoying update notices from a business network website. It was telling me who changed their profile, who’s linking up with whom, who wanted me to join their network, etc.
Because I don’t have much contact with these individuals, I usually just delete the emails without opening them, but for some reason, I opened this one.
In the email, one of my old high school acquaintances looked back at me. She looked like she was on a sailboat, having fun. The picture made me happy for her, so I looked down at her recent post.
It was a post that took my breath away. The post was actually a memorial to her. It stated that:
"She was an intelligent and courageous woman. She had the courage of trying to reach for her dream of running a successful assisted-living facility. Her dream was bigger than reality could allow. Sadly, when she recognized this, she was unable to cope with it, and she took her own life on October 19, 2010. She will always be remembered for her loving, joyous, and bubbly personality."
Even though this happened last year, I sit here now… numb… and wishing that I had done something more than I had.
If I had done something, would she have made a different decision?
You see… about two years ago, she found me on this business network website and invited me to join her on this network and on Facebook. She said that we had gone to high school together and were the best of friends back then. Even though she was in Texas and I was in Florida, she wanted to reconnect.
I couldn’t remember her as well as she remembered me, but I accepted her invitations, nonetheless.
Soon after that, she called me. She recounted scenes from high school like they were yesterday. She’d rattle off names from the past and revealed her mission to reconnect with all her close high school friends. Those years were the happiest times for her. Her goal was to resurrect those connections.
In this first contact, she was so happy, bubbly, and full of energy that she spooked me a bit. I remember mentioning the phone conversation to Katherine, commenting on the intensity of her need for connection — and how sad it was that she was having to reach out thousands of miles away and to years gone by — to the high school years — to find the connections she was thirsting for…
She called me a couple of times after that — and we’d spend hours together over the phone. In those calls, she told me of her failing business and how that was negatively affecting her marriage... but she’d always end our conversations saying how much I made her feel better… how I made her laugh… She was always upbeat and excited when we hung up.
This makes me wonder: If I had called her more, would things be different?
It’s a sobering reminder that we don’t realize how important our presence is to another human being. We don’t realize how, even as strangers, we can reach out to others — through an understanding smile, an encouraging compliment, a phone conversation, a simple FaceBook post. We can share our light with others, even if it’s only for a brief moment.
We don’t know what others are going through in their lives. We don’t know what battles are being lost or what struggles are being managed.
We only know that our actions affect others. If we could use the power held in the gifts of focused attention and positive connections more, we could abolish a host of negative and draining emotions that live within others and us.
Just as the absence of light sustains darkness, the absence of relationships highlights the necessity of them. Loneliness and despair grow in the dark abyss of one’s soul when the light of human contact is absent. By reaching out to another and openly sharing ourselves (i.e., our “inner light” or our energy) — even in the smallest of ways — we can dispel the darkness in another human being — if only for that brief moment — and it only takes a moment to affect someone’s inner light.