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...People Come into Our Lives...

September 2009

by Michael O’Brien

Eight years ago this morning I went home sick

remembering another I did not know…. »

I was listening to a song last Friday as I tried to understand what J.W. might have been going through when he took his life. I heard this line, “people come into our lives for a reason,”…and found a poem, unattributed that expands on that line.

People Come into Your Path for a Reason,

a Season or a Lifetime.

When you know which one it is, you will know what to do with that person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.

They have come to assist you through a dificulty…

To provide you with guidance and support…

To aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually…

They may seem like they are a godsend, and they are.

They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then without any wrongdoing on your part, or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.

Sometimes they die…

Sometimes they walk away…

Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand….

What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled…

Their work is done.

The prayer you sent up has now been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON.

Because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.

They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.

They may teach you something you have never done.

They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.

Believe it, it is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons.

Things you must build upon to have a solid emotional foundation.

Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.

It is said that love is blind, but friendship is clairvoyant.

Thank you for being a part of my life…

Whether you were a reason, a season or a lifetime

~ Unknown author

I was trying to think why J.W. had come into my life, as a way to try and understand why he chose to leave the lives of everyone he knew. From where I live now, I could only see a small portion of the grief that followed his decision, but it was a powerful number of people, and I couldn’t let go of the question why?

Why had he entered my life as an acquaintance? What did I learn by knowing him?

His death brought the same question up about Robert Cotten, someone I knew only briefly before cancer took him. I think I learned about grace from knowing him and the people around him in his last months. While the medical interventions he endured seemed to buy him days, they took big parts of human dignity as a toll, but with the support of those around him, and with his own internal strength, he remained, kind, funny, engaged through the last days I saw him.

J.W. seemed to not have a spectre of cancer knocking at his door. I worry maybe other spectres had welled up inside him and compelled him to do what he did. I worry that I didn’t see it in him, but then I’m learning that the people really serious about taking their lives conceal it well.

J.W. always seemed quiet, comfortable in any setting, smart and had a kind of humor that let you know he was very observant, very intelligent. He was committed to fitness, to his new bride, to supporting her work and career, and the quiet countryside of rural Virginia…how…why… could he choose to leave? I’ll never answer the question I know. But I worry, could the same spectres of hopelessness that convinced him to end his life show up in anyone? How compelling they must be to convince a person like him that life was over?

I won’t dwell on this anymore, I feel very badly for his widowed bride, for his friends, family, and the communities he played a role in. All are grieving still.

So it seems we never really know what’s happening inside of those people we have in our lives, and those people who come into our lives for a moment at the checkout in the grocery store, or on the corner as we wait for a bus.

They must be sent to us to help us learn, and we must be sent to them to help them in some way…keep it in mind as you go about your daily life today, tomorrow, and the next day…that smile, that hello, the politeness and kindness you give to people who come and go from your life, and the people who are in your life for a season, or a lifetime. It’s your gift to the greater good each time you give it.

I remember my Mom telling me when she was diagnosed with COPD after having survived cancer. I had brought my family to visit her and Dad for the holidays in Chicago. My youngest daughter seemed afraid of Mom’s wheelchair, and I asked her to give her Grandma a hug before we left, telling her that Grandma needed a tiny bit of her energy to make her feel better. My daughter ran to her Grandma and gave her a long hug and a tiny kiss that only a three-year-old can, and you could see Grandma light up. So it must be true: we share our energy through the little things, and ideally, when we are at our lowest, there’s someone who comes into our life to share a little of their life’s energy and get us over the low spots.

The first day of Fall arrives in a few days. A signal that the longer nights of winter are just around the corner. During these darker days, share what energy you can with those who play a role in your lifetime, your season or your day…you never know who really, really needs it. Because, like J.W., they won’t tell you ---you won’t know they need it until they are gone.