My uncle, a long-time writer and storyteller, has lately been writing phenomenal accounts of his life and emailing them to the family. Inspired by his courage to speak in his 'true voice' without concern of tempering accounts for his audience, I want to share a few items from my private journal.
My good friend and former lover, Caroline, passed away in a car accident four years ago, about six months before I started keeping a weblog. After coming back from the memorial service, I wrote a eulogy in my physical journal. Re-reading it tonight for the first time in years, its so relevant to my life now that I want to put it down here, both because it's a part of me, and because maybe it will strike a chord with someone else.
Sunday, March 28, 1999
Caroline K. O'Brien was killed in a car accident on Wednesday.
In the short time that I knew her, caroline taught me so much about the human condition, and how wonderful life could be. Only now, with her passing, am I beginning to realize the true scope of her gift.
Caroline was fearless. she would never hesitate to make the dangerous choice, and she had the self-reliance to drive forward where most would balk at fear of failure or fear of reprisal. What makes her truly beautiful is that this rare drive was joined by an equally rare love of those around her. She realized the true nature of happiness and strove to bring it out in others.
She was very smart, but she never held it against you. In love, Caroline followed the middle path: Never fear love; embrace it. Don't let it blind you, but let it fill you and those around you with joy.
I learned so much about love and life from Caroline. I've spent far more time over the last two years absorbing that knowledge into my own life than the time I was gifted with her presence.
Ben and I spent several hours talking on the road yesterday to and from the service. Talking with him helped me remember many of the lessons I forgot over time.
We all have a responsibility to embrace life. It's vital to steer clear of the empty side every day, however comfortable it may be. the life best lived is one filled with chances, experiences, glowing successes and poignant defeats. It's the self-reliance that allows a person to take a thousand chances a day, to be warmed by the successes and learn from the failures.
Nice is different than good, and both are essential. Live for yourself by living for others.
Consuetude should never be confused with contentment, and when routine and habit drive our actions we all die a little.
Life is a series of relations and intersections, and we grow wiser, stronger, and hopefully happier with every one.
Beware the feedback loop. Love and happiness can't survive in a sealed environment. If love is to lead your life, then it must always be fed with new experiences, risks, successes and failures brought to the table by both parties. Most importantly, never lose hold of the qualities that inspired love once love is achieved, because love is not a gateway or a finish line. It's a constant achievement to be won each day.
Do great things and small. Never be afraid of the extra mile. You'll find looking back that the outcome is always worth more than the opportunity cost, whether it's driving two hours to see a friend for dinner or leaving a job to follow a dream.
Thank you Caroline for all your teachings. I pray that I can live up to them in my own life every day, and inspire others as you inspire me.
I love you,
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