‘Today I shall behave, as if this is the day I will be remembered.’ Dr Seuss
Isn’t it awesome when someone behaves in a way that allows us to remember them in a good light ? I picked this quote today in honor of an old friend who fits this bill perfectly.
The back-story to our initial meeting is kind of humorous. My first book ‘Will You Dance? is an ideal gift book for anyone who has faced a difficult loss. Because of this niche market, soon after its release, I was looking for innovative ways to market it to the correct readership. Market research led me to brand new territory and in late 2002 I attended a Funeral Industry Trade Show. When I arrived to the trade show the woman who checked me in, shared the inside scoop with me in a hushed voice….., “Since you are new to the industry we gave you a premium booth space for no additional fee.’ I was of course pleased to hear of my upgrade but wanted to know exactly what a premium booth was going to grant me. She was quick to school me on the fact that it was not so much a ‘what’ I was getting, but a ‘where’ I was being placed that mattered.
“Honey, we put your booth right between the Big Hearse display and the guy who turns cremated bones into diamonds. It doesn’t get any better than that….’ WHAT???????? I tried not to look horrified but dang- she just said that someone was making jewelry from human cremains. Yowza! I was definitely not in my comfort zone….
As I entered the huge exposition hall I could hardly believe my eyes. It was kind of like an outdoor garden shop- only different. There were lots of floral arrangements scattered about everywhere…that part was fine. But just as numerous as the blooms were the caskets and the urns and the headstones. And was it my imagination or were there an inordinate amount of very somber looking people dressed in black suits milling about? (Ok, I am sure my memory deceives me on this detail, but you get the general sense of what the atmosphere was like…)
Suffice it to say I felt like I had accidentally wandered onto the ‘Adams Family’ back lot at Universal Studios…. And it did not help at all that this mini indoor staged cemetery was set up in the Grand Exposition Hall of one of the most gaudy casinos in all of Sin City (Las Vegas, Nevada) The cumulative effect of all of this stimuli converging together at once was a bit unnerving to say the least.
As I began unpacking books and setting up my display table I made it my goal to make no eye contact with anyone. The atmosphere had me spooked. What the heck was I thinking when I signed up for this one? My self-condemnation had hit a high note when a friendly gentleman with a slight East Coast lilt to his voice came over and introduced himself as David. He picked up one of my books and began leafing through it. He liked it…He could see a place for it in the industry. He bought three cases right then and there! David was my first customer, but there were many others that followed. Turns out my book and me were the ‘Belle of the Ball’ that weekend- A fresh message, and a quality product and I was embraced! The funeral industry that seemed like such a strange island to me the day before, suddenly felt rather cozy and hospitable. I had a great experience, learned a lot, and found a deep and abiding respect for these really great people who provide such an important service to all of us in our times of need.
David and I continued to interact throughout the three day event. As we talked and learned a little more about one another, his ‘Discerning Funeral Industry Executive’ demeanor gave way to a fun loving sarcastic guy who found mirth in my ‘foo foo’ way of viewing life, death, and what comes next. In perfect response, my ‘Serene Author’ persona also fell apart and he got to know the rather snarky, irreverent woman I can be when I let down my ‘full blown mystic’ guard and give in to the cosmic humor that is always so abundant in my life. Turns out that the ‘premium booth space’ that was nestled there between the Bad Ass Hearse Display and the ‘Bones to Diamonds’ guy, was indeed a pretty awesome piece of trade show real estate- because not only did it sell hundreds of copies of my book…. it netted me a friend; one, who has, despite distance and circumstance, stood the test of time.
After David returned home to the East Coast and began using my books as a give away to the bereaved families he worked with, he found a genuine appreciation for my work. He felt good about giving broken families this little book that somehow touched their dark places with light. Over the years I have gotten infrequent but sincere words of appreciation from him and he has shared beautiful stories with me about healings that have happened when his hands have delivered my books during a time of need. In some strange way we have formed a partnership… one that we both appreciate in a deep and unexplainable way.
It had been at least 3 years since our last contact when I recently received a funny and slightly admonishing email from him. In it he stated that my work was now starting to really ‘scare him.’ His fear was coming from the fact that life had delivered him to a place where some of my foo foo philosophies that had at one time seemed so far out there were lately starting to make a little more sense. Of course this tickled me to hear… and on a whim I picked up the phone and welcomed him to the ‘foo foo’ side of the tracks. Our conversation was happy and relaxed and as we talked and shared our work related stories, it was clear that the universe had taken us each to some very different but startlingly similar destinations.
Although strangers to one another in many ways, David is one of those people that destiny brought into my world on purpose. He laughs and says it spooks him when I say this, but he knows it to be true just as I do. When we met all those years ago we formed a strangely enduring bond. Today, I believe that our bond has endured because there is something good we can do together. The Universe is a mad architect, and for whatever reason, I knew 13 years ago when I met David that the scaffolding was being placed for a future climb- I just never could foresee what or how that climb would look.
In a few weeks my husband and I will escape to the ocean for a weekend away. Nestled in the middle of those few days is another premium spot the universe has saved for me- it will be an opportunity to meet up with David and to checkout the scaffolding the Universe has put in place. I have no grand expectations, but I know there is an opportunity for us to explore how we might jointly serve those who grieve …. (And I do appreciate that this time the premium spot that the Universe has set up for me has a view of the ocean and not a hearse…)
It will be some much needed time away with my husband, with a little sprinkling of cosmic business opportunity on the side. I am grateful for the chance to reconvene with an old friend and I am all sorts of excited about the good things he and I may be able to do together to bring light into the dark places grief creates…
I think the universe knew just what it was doing when it caused our unlikely collision in Sin City all those years ago….
So today’s blog is dedicated to my friend David.
‘Today I shall behave as if this is the day I will be remembered.”
You did. And I have.
Looking forward with a smile….