Life is a book of pages.
We laugh. We cry. We smile. We stumble. We stand. We fail. We succeed. We win and we suffer loss.
The goal in life is to have one perfect memory that is all about those moments, big or small, that make you wish they’d last forever. Those moments you want to stop in time, when everything feels perfect, even for just a split-second.
Snapshots of the mind. Moments to treasure forever.
It is easy to bookmark the great things that happen in our life. We do not struggle to remember the events in our life that are good. We can remember almost every single detail of good life events. Great memories of graduations, engagements, weddings and almost every detail of our child’s life from birth to this very moment. These are easy to bookmark and if we are lucky enough, we are able to put a few of these pages together to create a nice “chapter” in our book of life memories.
The sad part is that we all have bookmarked pages of life of things we do not want to remember.
Life is full of these bookmarked moments.
Life is complicated. It starts before we’re ready, it continues while we’re still trying to figure out the point of it. And it ends before we’ve worked out just what to do.
I’ve learned that in an instant life can change.
Just like that.
No rewind button.
No pause or stop button.
Suddenly we are scrambling to “bookmark” memories as fast as we can in our minds.
Sadly, I have had to this a few times in my life.
At 9 years old, I had to scramble to bookmark memories of a 14-year-old brother that was taken from our family in a car-train accident. I can remember almost every minute of that fateful day he was taken from us. But I think that over time when we block out the pain of loss, it causes us to lose some of the precious memories. These “bookmarks” have faded with time and now at 54, I struggle to remember him.
I lost my grandfather in 1986. I have great bookmarked memories of him. He was a great influence on me and there isn’t a day I don’t wish I could talk to him one more time. The funny thing is that I have some bookmarked memories of him that I choose not to open in my book of life memories. I systematically only open the pages that make him larger than life. I only open the pages that fit the image I have of him in my mind. Those pages of him acting poorly or negatively, although bookmarked, will remained closed and locked. Never to be opened again in the confines of my mind. I guess we all do that on some level. When someone dies, we freely open the “good” pages and quietly put those bookmarks that would taint the memory of a loved one under lock and key.
Many of the bookmarks in my life were influenced by Bryan Blakely, my childhood best friend. The first pillar in my life. The days of my early childhood were influenced by his presence in my life. Not much happened in my life from the age of 5 to 16 that Bryan and I did not experience together. Somewhere along the age of 16, we started to drift into different directions. Over the next 30 years whenever our paths crossed, we would always talk and we knew that there would always be a special friendship between us, but it would never be the same as it was growing up on that alley between Walnut and Washington Streets in Oak Harbor, Ohio. He died in June of 2009.
My best friend from my high school years took his own life.
Now that is a bookmark that I would rather not have to open. I was devastated. I was confused. I was filled with questions. I was overwhelmed with regret. I was angry. I was ashamed. I was frustrated. I was hurt. I was all of these things and more.
I will forever be grateful for spending 40 years of my life with the pleasure of knowing Steve Schueren. Steve was my closest high school friend. I looked up to Steve and I will always hold him in high regard as a man of God. All the bookmarked memories I have shared with him will forever be cherished and remembered. All of us who knew Steve know that he will live forever in our hearts.
About the age of 16, I was introduced to a man who would become so influential throughout my teen and adult years. He grew to be not only be my friend but he was no less a father figure in my life. Our father/son relationship lasted for years. Bob Emrich loved me as a son and he loved me unconditionally. God took him home after a battle with cancer. He wasn’t perfect but he taught me so much and I still miss him everyday. There is no doubt of his influence in my life. Forever bookmarked in my memory.
One would think after reading this, I would have this bookmarking thing down. But like most people, I move from day-to-day not really paying attention to how quickly things could change.
This past week I was reminded once again of making every effort to bookmark memories on the pages of my life. Phil Disney is someone who I traveled with when I was in college. As some of you may know, I traveled with a singing team all over the United States and the the world when I was a student at Liberty University. Phil was a member of the same team I was on. To say that Phil and I are great friends would be an overstatement. We have the common bond of similar bookmarked memories of our time in college. We are friends on Facebook and every now and then we may comment to each other on something we post. But last week, I was shocked when I heard that his wife had suddenly passed away.
There it is again… life can change in a moment.
By all accounts, Jana was a wonderful wife, mother and friend. More importantly, she was a true example of a Godly woman. I spent a few hours this past week reading all of the comments and memories of her. What a wonderful legacy she left upon her family and her friends. All of these memories are the bookmarks that each and every one that knew her will retain for the rest of their lives.
Another reminder to pay attention to all of our life moments because it all can change in an instant.
Why does it take big kicks in the behind for us to realize what’s important in life? Most of the time, I believe, it is because we get caught up in chasing things in life. Whether it be money, materials, certain experiences we think will solve our problems or even people. Sometimes we get so engaged with everything in the future or in the past and what it can bring us, that we forget about all that is right in front of our faces.
Are you paying full attention to the things you love? To each moment? What memories have you bookmarked in your memory? I implore you to start with one thing today. One thing you want to experience fully. Maybe something that will be with your wife, husband, your children or grandchildren.
Maybe you need to make yourself available to allow a loved one to make a bookmarked memory with you. Remember your children are making bookmark memories with you as well.
I realize more and more how incredibly blessed my life has been and I know a good part of that must pay tribute to the people that surround my life, past, present and future.
Lives that vary so greatly, the people I went to school with formed a good part of who I am today. The good, the bad and all of the in between!
Time goes quickly and some stay in touch more than others, but there’s a bond in growing up in the small town of Oak Harbor, Ohio or in the time spent in a small Baptist Church and Christian School that only those there can understand. I suppose it’s the pros and cons of living with a small group of people that knits our hearts together. The losses that take their toll on such a small community can seem larger than life because of the percentage they take away from the whole. They can feel like holes that are irreparable. But at the same time the wonderful memories of victories are celebrated as monumental events by one and all and are remembered fondly.
My challenge is for anyone reading this is to take the time to make memory bookmarks in the confines of the hearts and minds of your family. In turn you will be able to do the same, before it’s too late.