It’s Memorial Day and I am remembering. Remembering those who have passed in various ways throughout the years. Those who have touched me personally.

Remembering, etymologically, is a putting back together of parts. When someone is torn from us, we naturally perform this reconstruction through our thoughts.

The most recent lost in my life was my friend Nikk, who died unexpectedly two weeks ago. He was 33. His family has chosen not to request an autopsy, so we don’t know how he died, whether it was an aneurysm or a tumor or a heart attack. I have a compulsion to understand, to know the reason. His family, understandably, believes that the final result is the same so why put their son’s body through invasive procedures?

What’s important is not how it happened but how we choose to remember.

And so we remember. The music, the love, the funny things he said and did. The contribution he made.

In Memory of Nikk C.

In Memory of Nikk C.

These are the sorts of things we are called upon to piece together about all our loved ones who have passed on. I remember these things about my father who died of pneumonia at age 57; my college roommate who was killed in a car accident in the prime of her life; and my grandmother who lived to a ripe old age. What of my high school classmate who was hit by a bus? Or the professor who was going to be my thesis advisor until he was in an accident on his way home one night?

We experience painful loss, and in the same transaction we are gifted with memories that repair the rift. What will we choose to remember? And what can we learn from those memories about how best to live our lives?

I asked some of Nikk’s friends what message they thought he would want to send to the world. Some words and phrases that came up were were joy, spontaneity, embracing who you are, connecting closely with others, believing in others even when they don’t believe in themselves, and being a force for positivity, inspiration and love. Recently he had completed a huge web development project for the Rainbird Foundation, whose mission is to end child abuse. He definitely made his mark. The pieces come together.

I had a brush with possible death when I was in a car accident four weeks ago, and I have been called to consider what people will remember about me. I want to be thought of for the creativity I have put into the world, for the ways I have expanded and progressed other people’s lives, for my spirit and my contributions. I hope that many people’s lives have been made better because I have touched them.

Celebrating Life

The phrase “Memorial Service” has rather somber connotations, and so Nikk’s family gathered people together for a “Celebration of Life.” Whatever the title, what we all did there was scroll through our memories. We experienced joy, we connected with each other, and we appreciated all that Nikk had created.

We say “Rest in Peace,” and we want the souls of our loved ones to be at peace if that is our belief. I believe that with that phrase we are seeking peace and wholeness in ourselves as we adjust to life without the person who passed. I also believe it’s the remembering, and the inspiration that springs from it, that will get us there.

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