Friday, January 16, 2015

Being Kind. Kind. Kind.

A few years ago, my Mom was informed by former classmates that a college friend of hers had ended his life (a situation I am sensitive to). Sorry to throw that sentence to you on an otherwise (hopefully) happy Friday, but I promise I'm going somewhere with it that's hopefully uplifting.
Though my generation will likely miss out on this a bit with Facebook's presence, my Mom obviously had lost contact with most of her acquaintances from her time in college. Not her best friends, but those peripheral people who you know in group settings and always just reflect on with love based on your interactions. So when someone messaged her online and said "Hey, just so you know so&so took his life last weekend..." out of nowhere, it was incredibly sad and unexpected. I imagine she encapsulated a lot of these people as the early twenty-something people they were, and just reflected on them with joy as she aged.

As it came to be, this person who left earth prematurely had in fact left a note behind. One that was so beautifully written that it was shared by many of his friends and between those who knew him. My Mom received a copy in her email. 
I remember her telling me about him. She told me what a lovely person he was. How professionally accomplished he was. She told me how sad she was that he had pulled the curtain before the show's end. She then asked me if I wanted to hear his note. 

I did.
I don't remember everything it said in his actual words. I remember a lot of euphemisms for how sad he has felt much of life despite being surrounded by joy and understanding that this was not normal. I remember him writing to his family and indicating that he picked a date that didn't correspond or wasn't close with any events of his loved ones. I remember him saying how much he loved all of them. How grateful he was for everyone around him. How much he wished he could have 'shaken' this feeling. I don't remember verbatim what he said as he expressed all of this, but I remember understanding the sad gist amongst his text.
But there is one thing that I do remember verbatim.

He ended the long letter with six words. He had summed up his life. Said his goodbyes. Bore his soul to all he loved. Explained himself. He penned this knowing it was his lasting legacy. His final 2 cents. And he chose to close his letter with this amazingly spectacularly sweet message:

"Be kind. Be kind. Be kind."

When I read those words, I immediately swelled with tears. I had not known this guy at all though I trusted my Mom's words that he had been worth knowing. I think I'm a pretty nice person. I genuinely love lots of people. I like all sorts of weirdos (myself included). I don't need all my friends to come from the same swatch of fabric

But I also think I can be a cynical adult who fails to see the good right in front of me at times because it has just cut me off with no blinker. Or failed to say 'thank you'.

So for 2015: That is my motto. I know I will fail at times. I know I will forget in heated moments. But I also know it will help me reflect on the type of person I'd like people to remember me as. I'd like to remind myself as much as I can that that is who I want to be. Because existing in this world can often be hard enough.

I want to be kind. kind. kind.
 [All photos by me]


Pamela Bwell said...

His name was Tim and he was a beautiful soul. We were a small group, the first-ever journalism graduates of our university. Words mattered to us. He would love knowing that his words inspired you.


Pat Hatt said...

The way we should all try and live indeed, but those idiots cutting me off with no blinker sure makes it tough lol We never truly know what is going through most people's minds though

Jax said...

It's always sad when someone ends their own life. There's always a part of me that thinks, couldn't they get help? Why couldn't they wait until things get better? I attribute those thoughts to my own fear of death.

That being said, it's even more sad that this man had to die in order for him to get his message out. Everyone should be kind, especially since it's such an easy thing to do. Kudos to you for spreading his legacy just that much further.

Femme Frugality said...

Caitlin, you and Tim really moved me with this. I'm so glad you shared his memory to inspire others. It's such an "easy" concept, but one that we make so difficult to put into practice. I'll join you on the kind challenge, knowing my own faults as well!

To your mom-I'm sorry for your loss. Truly. I'm sorry he had to go through everything he did, and hope there is some relief for him in whatever comes after this life. My thoughts to his family as well.

Unknown said...

Hi Caitlin, I'm glad I chose today to visit your blog. I had someone much closer to me commit suicide last week and I wrote about it on my own blog. No one at all knew he was in the least bit of trouble, which made it a lot harder to deal with. I'm wondering whether sharing this on his Facebook page will help those that knew him best.

Pamela Bwell said...

Thank you for your kind comments about a friend I'd just reconnected with in the year before he died. I think Tim's friends would appreciate this very much, but that is Caitlin's call. Tim's situation/condition was complicated: challenging brain chemistry issues and possibly a bad combination of prescribed medications that did not produce the intended result. There is still so much that is not known about the brain, and it follows that medications that are administered may not be the right "chemistry" for certain individuals. Another former classmate who had remained a lifelong friend of Tim's told me that his thinking was confused about certain aspects of his life. She said he believed he was in dire financial circumstances when he actually wasn't, for example. Tim had a difficult diagnosis of mental illness that he just wasn't able to overcome.

Why Girls Are Weird said...

I needed this really badly. I have a coworker who is not being nice to me at all and of course my first thought is to be mean back. But really that helps no one and it makes me feel like a bad person.

Thank you for sharing this, I needed a game changer.

Diwakar said...

Hello Caitlin. Wish you a very blessed, prosperous and a very Christ centered New year. I am glad to know you through your profile and blog post. I am in the Pastoral ministry for last 35yrs in the great city of Mumbai, India a city with great contrast where richest of rich and the poorest of poor live. We reach out to the poorest of poor with the love christ tobring healing to the broken hearted. We also encourge young people like you as well as adults from the West to come to Mumbai on a short / long term missions trip to work with us in the slums of Mumbai amongst poorest of poor during their vacation time. We ould love to have you come to Mumbai with your friends to work with us in the slums of Mumbai during your vacation time. My email id is: dhwankhede(at)gmail(dot)com and my name is Diwakar Wankhede. Looking foward to hear from you very soon. God's richest blessings on you.

Caitlin @ Candyfloss & Persie said...

Thank you all for your thoughtful comments! I felt moved by this as well (as you can see) and it makes me happy others felt the same. I often need a reminder.

Unknown said...

Beautiful, words and pictures. <3