What makes a person memorable? Is it the way they look? Or the way they sound? Is it what they say or don't say? Or is it what they have or don't have? Is it what they make you do or don't do? Or is it how they make you feel? What is it that causes us to hold onto the memory of those that leave us for a period of time or for good? We need to ask ourselves these questions because we will be left to the memory of others someday, and there will be no chance to prepare, alter or fix how that memory will be held.
From the moment we are born we begin creating the memory of who we are. That essence reaches out to the world, fashioned on our dreams and realities. Throughout life, others will attach their dreams to your reality, and give you the responsibility, in some cases, if those dreams do or do not materialize. The memory we leave behind is often based on how others perceive our role in advancing or inhibiting their lives. While we are alive, we have the ability to form our residual memory, for better or for worse. However, the moment we transition, that memory becomes the province of others, who will select the elements to illuminate. How we make someone feel is what will percolate to the top, and hopefully, we made them feel good.
The sad and unrelenting transition of our vibrant friend, Bill Freeman, on January 15th, as we flew in from Rio, hit us like dense turbulence from above, as we made our way back into our lives here. Left only are the memories of how he made us feel. How that warm smile broke out across his face whenever he saw us. How he warmly and respectfully introduced us to many people who are our dearest friends today. How he shared of himself, with a generosity reserved for kings. How his bountiful spirit was infectious, and one took up the cause of helping others just by being around him. Bill was on everyone's invitation list, not because he knew so many people, but for his gift of bringing them together. I remember running into him at a fundraiser, where I didn't know a single person, and through his many introductions, I left feeling like it was the best party ever. Many of us know the act of adjusting our plans to be available for one of Bills intimate dinners, for fifty of his dear friends, on the Vineyard. He could be counted on to be at weddings, christenings, birthday parties, openings and closings. He was there to give healing encouragement at one's bedside and to hold your hand through difficult times. He would be front and center, near or far, to honor a friend who had transitioned before him. He supported young and old alike, and could be counted on to be there if needed. These are the memories that he has left so many of us...and many of us do not know where we will turn without him.
Like so many of us, he could be faulted with human foibles....but those are not the things to remember about him, because that would say more about us than him. To pick apart the "rights and wrongs" of a person's life, is a favorite sport, when a person leaves us and are no longer there to protect, form and create their memory. We can, in our highest selves, embrace the best of the memories we have of others, or we can devolve into the temporal sport of debasement...the choice lies within us. One's memory lies in our hands once they have passed on, a role and responsibility we cannot take lightly. What makes a person memorable is what we chose to remember...and what we will be remembered for, as well.