Sometimes, tears can be our greatest inspiration. They force us to react, and rise above ourselves.
Almost a year ago, I really kicked up my writing output. I wrote a lot. I read a lot. I started to find myself as an artist. Then, in December, my Grandpa Joe lay in hospice, dying of cancer.
This affected me in many ways. Perhaps the most direct is the blog I wrote while struggling with my feelings about his impending death: A Train Ride to an Unknown Stop
I wrote it in the middle of the night, right after finding out. I bought a domain name so that my blog would be easier to find, and then I posted it. My post had nearly six hundred views in December.
Truthfully, that didn’t even scratch the surface of how many read it. The post was printed out several times and circulated to everyone who knew my grandfather. I went home and everyone I knew had read it. The library had a copy. I gained an instant celebrity, of sorts. The post was read at my grandpa’s funeral. I was asked if other churches could use it in future funeral services. To this date, it may be the most powerful things I’ve ever written. That post introduced the area I grew up in to my life as a writer.
I had always thought of interviewing my grandpa about his life and the way he saw the world. Grandpa Joe really took the “what would Jesus do” stuff to heart. He was happier than anyone else I knew. He didn’t have money. He didn’t have health, but at least up till the last few days, he was happy. I felt like there must be something we could all take from that. I had a career. I had more money. I owned a house. I had an education. I had all of these things, but I was not happy. He had none of them, but he was.
Grandpa Joe’s death meant I had waited too long. His inspiration would extend only to the people he personally knew. My waiting cost the world. It cost me a chance to learn about the inner workings of my Grandpa, and that saddens me. Still, I came out of his death, learning to be happy, and learning to write from the heart.
My sister made a picture for me. In the frame, set on top of a railroad track is a picture of my grandpa. Below it is a quote from that blog post. It hangs at the top of my stairs, the last thing I see before I leave every day, and the first thing I see when I return home. It’s a reminder of what is possible with just a little bit of love.
Life is short. We, as men and women, are mortal. Our deeds outlive us. Art outlives us. Live like the legacy you want to leave behind. Show pride in the memory you will leave behind.