Who created a ripple in your life?
Today I was at the funeral for my uncle. During the eulogy I was reminded that he had had a heart attack and been revived at the age of 39, exactly the age Matt was when he died. I’d always known it happened when he was young, but I hadn’t remembered his age. I was just a kid at the time. About 10…. exactly the age my kids are now. I have a vague memory of a hospital with blue walls and my mum being very worried about him, but no real details.
My uncle got another 32 years. Not always entirely healthy years, but certainly healthy enough to enjoy his kids school milestones, their weddings, the birth of five grandchildren. Last year, at his 70th birthday, he commented that he hadn’t expected to get even that far. He got lucky at 39, where Matt didn’t. He didn’t get lucky at 71, whereas others do.
As the service ended this afternoon I went to visit Matt’s grave. It was raining hard and there was a thick layer of water on the gravestone. The water made the dark grey of the stone shiny. I told my kids later on about it. They smiled.
I put my hand flat onto the stone, and the water rippled. I lifted my hand back up. Another ripple. I noticed that the gold words on the stone were reflected in the water, each drop of rain creating another ripple, blurring the words for a moment before it became still. I dropped my hand down again. Another ripple. Ripple. Blur. Still. Ripple.
I remembered how after Matt died I started talking about the ripple effect of good his early death had had. So many fathers had told me that they were hugging their children more now. Wives told me they were appreciating their husbands more.
And then there were the ripple effects of good from his life. The stories from friends and patients and family. His kids. His life was a series of ripples which changed, sometimes subtly and sometimes immeasurably, people’s lives.
My uncle is the same of course. His death but also his life. As his eldest grandson spoke at the funeral I thought of the ripple effect my uncle has had on his life, and how this child will transfer this ripple to his siblings and cousins too young to properly know him yet. My uncle got another 32 years. So so many extra ripples he got to create on those around him.
We all create ripples in the world. Ripples from our lives and from our deaths which change people around us, sometimes completely unbeknownst to us.
When we are touched by the ripple of someone close to us it forever changes who we are. The boundary between who we are with them and who we were before them becomes blurred. And for a moment we are still. Not quite ourselves anymore, on the way to the next version of ourself, but not there yet. And then the ripple comes again, and something else changes.
We are all just ripples bumping into each other I think. Ripple. Blur. Still. Ripple.