I found out last week that a woman I used to see at the Pilates studio I attend passed away. Her name was Julie. She was a New Yorker with a lot of spunk, never shy to chime in with her opinion. She wasn’t one to warm up to new people, but we hit it off right away with our glances during class, our love of dogs and sharing of political sketches from the last SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. We never exchanged phone numbers, but would always say goodbye to each other before leaving the studio with a smile and a “I’ll see you”…whatever day our next class was together. The last time I saw her we did just that. “See you Wednesday,” I said, and left looking forward to seeing her the next time we had class together. I never did see her again. I had noticed she hadn’t been coming to class, which was unusual, and assumed she had come down with a cold or flu, it is that season, but after a week and a half had gone it seemed strange that I hadn’t seen her. I was told that she passed away, that she had been found in her home unresponsive. It hit me hard. This woman, who I didn’t know outside of the studio, was someone, in 3 ½ months, I had made a connection with, someone who always made me smile, and someone who come over to me when I was new to the studio and made me feel welcome. Something she was not known for. It’s been over a week since I learned of her passing and it still hits me every time I walk into the studio that she won’t be there. I hadn’t realized how much of an impact she had made on me until she was gone.
It got me thinking. How many people do we have in our lives, people we may see where we work, at our favorite coffee shop, or maybe one of our neighbors who we don’t really know but make an impact in our day-to-day lives? How many beautiful souls do we exchange smiles with, pleasantries with or just look to see if they are there? And how many of them would we miss if they were no longer there? I find myself missing Julie deeply, to the point where often I find I have tears in my eyes when I open the door to the studio for a class we frequently both took. I think back and wonder if there was something more I could have done to let her know how much she meant to me, even more than just a few minutes of banter we would share before or after class, but I think she knew, and I think it meant just as much to her as it did me. I wonder how many people we impact and don’t even know it. I’ve certainly had people, people I didn’t even know, come up to me and thank me for just showing up, for consistently being somewhere and being reliable, for always walking in with a smile, and so I realize that just by being myself and by being conscious of those around me, I may leave a lasting impression on someone, and I try to remember that when even doing the most mundane of tasks, every moment is an opportunity to make someone feel good, or worthy, or appreciated.
The feeling of loss around Julie has taken me a bit by surprise, the heaviness of it, and I know if I was able to tell her today how I felt, she’d probably send back a quick, “ah, get over it,” with a smirk in her sharp New York way, but perhaps my feeling of loss around her was meant to make the impact it has because I need to be more vocal about how I feel about everyone in my life, not just those in my immediate circle, but anyone I consistently see or talk to and let them know what they mean to me, even if it’s the smallest exchange. As they say, you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone, and that is so true, but what if we make an effort to look at what we do have, and make sure we appreciate those people today, and let them know we do, while we still can. SLAY on!
SLAY OF THE DAY: Do you make an effort to let people know what they mean to you? Do you make an effort to reach out or be kind to the people you meet, or see on a regular basis? Of those people, is there someone who you would truly miss if they were no longer there? Let them know SLAYER, let them know what they mean to you, share that with them, you never know when it might be too late.
S – self L – love A – appreciate Y – you