The dictionary defines an epitaph as "a brief poem or other writing in praise of a deceased person." It seems sometimes in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives that we simply overlook the living. We take them for granted; that they will always be around. But this life we share is but a vapor and one day we stand over an obituary and try to say all the nice things we wish we would have said more often when the person was still alive. I had a Pastor friend one time say that he prefers to give flowers to someone while they were still alive. Amen to that.
In the passing of Margaret Basset I have paused long enough to say something nice. Something appropriate. Something true. While I did not know Margaret extensively, I valued who she was and what she had to say at OpedNews.com. I would target her comments in article threads to cut through some of the banter and get down to the point. She always seemed to go a bit deeper than most were willing. For that she will be missed. I see others posting their condolences; their epitaphs if you will. Their brief poem of praise to a woman they must have admired deeply. The words are touching and the sentiment sweet. They ring true to those who knew Margaret Basset. But at the back of my soul is a nagging sense that while we should always remember people well, we should cherish them even more whilst they still are among us.
I know that may seem a rudimentary premise. But how much is this carried out in our daily lives? How often do we stop long enough to say a brief poem of praise for those in our lives that we care about? If you truly stopped long enough to consider some of these folks, what would you say? I suppose I would thank my mother for being a steady person no matter how unsteady I was in my life. For always being sacrificial of herself for the betterment of her children. For her sarcastic wit, which apparently is genetic. I suppose I would thank my pastor for being faithful to God and drawing me out of a life that was on a collision course. For being a friend before an authority figure. For being able to truly listen; a gift precious few cultivate anymore in an increasingly selfish society. I suppose for my brothers I would say thank you for seeing me through the most difficult portions of my life with little judgmentalism. To my sister a thank you for teaching me how to smile at the small stuff. To my brand new nephew a thank you for renewed hope in all that might still be good in this world. It has to be for him. To my friends, who God has orchestrated in my life exactly at the right times, just for being a friend. To know that they are valued; each and every one for who they are. To the person who I may have forgot, for being forgiving of my humanness.
And even on this website, of which I was around when it was a fledgling idea in the mind of a man I am proud to call friend. To Rob Kall who takes the time. We have no idea how much time he has to take to keep an operation like this running and independent. He took me in when I had no idea how to write a title for an article without completely confusing my readers. For eight years now he takes my calls. He takes my complaining. He takes my work and gives it a podium from which to speak. I have never taken it for granted in my heart but have not said it enough with my mouth. So to you Rob, consider this an epitaph for the living. Flowers for who you are, not who you were.
As we lay down our thoughts for Margaret Basset today, my prayer is that we think long enough on those who are still with us as well. That we pause long enough to speak the poem of praise we have for those who make up our lives, while they are still here. That an epitaph need not just be for those who have passed but also for those who make up who we are. Those who pour into our lives daily. Those who deserve to hear what they mean to us before it is carved on their tombstone.