Amy, a long-time Weaving Influence team member, lost her mother, Carolyn, last week.
In the week or so before her mother’s death, she took off some time to plan music and gather photos for her mother’s memorial service.
She said, wisely, “I don’t get a do-over on this.”
As I sat in the back row at her mother’s service, witness to and observer of the friends and family who gathered to remember and reminisce, I remembered Amy’s words and felt grateful that she did what mattered most at exactly the right time.
We don’t get do-overs in this life.
We can do what matters most, in the moments we have, or those moments are gone.
What’s needed is to have clarity about what really matters and to be decisive to take action, moment by moment, to pursue what’s most meaningful and important to us.
Though I didn’t know Amy’s mother, the stories her friends and family shared brought her to life for me. In each story, the themes of what mattered in her life resonated loudly.
Here’s what I heard:
Family matters. After many miscarriages and a deep desire to have a child, Carolyn became pregnant and gave birth to Amy at age 40. Her nieces and nephews, whom Carolyn invested in over the years as if they were her own children, recounted her joy and anticipation of Amy’s birth and her dedication to her daughter. Carolyn cherished Amy because family, especially those closest to us, matter.
Friends matter. Carolyn’s friends described her house as a home where they were always welcome and where laughter, fun, and homemade pie always topped the menu.
Faith matters. Amy narrowed from 49 of her mother’s favorite hymns to 5 for the service. Friends remembered Bible studies and Carolyn’s love of a cappella songs at church.
Pets matter. Amy’s mom loved boxer dogs, especially her dog Kip. Our furry friends are a big part of our lives and happiness.
Hard work matters. Friends recounted the two jobs Carolyn worked to provide for Amy, particularly after her husband’s death. Work is an important and meaningful part of our lives and the reason we work, as much as the actual work that we do, brings meaning to the sacrifices work sometimes requires.
What was missing from the conversation at Carolyn’s memorial: no one mentioned the cars she drove, how much money she made, what clothes she wore, or places she traveled. No one mentioned a list of possessions or even awards/accomplishments.
Instead, everyone focused on what really matters, the things that loss brings into focus for us.
For today, I am reminding myself, I don’t get a do-over. Moment by moment, I want to choose what matters. Thanks, Amy. Thanks, Carolyn.
I am the founder/CEO of the Weaving Influence team, the author of Reach: Creating the Biggest Possible Audience for Your Message, Book, or Cause, and the host of the Book Marketing Action Podcast. I’m a wife and mom of three kids, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, coffee, and dark chocolate.
I have had this post open on my screen all day and haven’t come up with an answer I was happy with. At the precise moment I am commenting, my FIL with memory issues is complaining about his grievances with us. Maybe this is the perfect time to comment then – although my road and Amy’s road differed, there was enough commonality that I did not feel alone. I learned from how she managed everything and I hope when all is said and done I will have chosen the things that matter.
You already have, Paula.
No matter how much I complained and wished things were different at times along the way, in the end, I’m thankful for being “stuck” in the situation I was in. As I said at the funeral, “Even when it wasn’t my pleasure, it was always my honor” to take care of my mother in her final years.
Hang in there my friend, and know that you always have someone who will listen and understand.