How do you want to be remembered?
A friend of mine recently announced on Facebook that someone relatively close to her had passed away. It was an unexpected, and certainly untimely, passing, as this woman was in her mid-40s. Certainly this friend was missed, and a void was felt. Now, I only know what I saw on social media, so I have no insight into the life she lived, and not knowing her in person means I am not in a position to judge her accomplishments. What I did see was that she had a fine collection of Disney pins, that were then distributed to her friends and family members as tokens to remember her by.
I like the idea of remembering someone dear to me with something physical like that. But it also got me to thinking, what matters at the end of your life, when people mourn your passing and you have no more say-so over how your actions will be perceived?
Does an enviable Disney pin collection define who you were? Perhaps. And perhaps there is something to be said for people to have a memento of you and what you meant to them in the form of a pin commemorating a certain character of ride.
But is that what you want to be remembered for? For collecting pins?
I had the opportunity to eulogize both of my parents. As I struggled to summarize the best parts of their lives with humor and honesty, I knew they weren’t perfect. I knew they had flaws. But in death, we like to remember the best parts of people, the highest levels they achieved, the best things they did.
I am not a person who dwells on the morbid, or thinks about her own death. Perhaps burying two parents and a sibling has given me cause to think about the end of life more than most people.
One thing I have thought about is what I would like my headstone to say. Another friend of mine was walking through a cemetery in downtown Salt Lake City. She stopped in surprise when she saw a phrase engraved on the back of one that she had only heard used before in her own family, “He was a second miler.” She walked around to the front of it, and when she saw the name on the front, laughed, because it was her own uncle. She hadn’t known he was buried in that particular cemetery.
I love that concept of being remembered in death for the best parts of your life. And I think being remembered as someone who went the second mile is about as high an accomplishment I can reach.
I hope my headstone says something like that, and something about me loving the Savior and serving others.
But I can only be remembered in death for what I do in life.
What do I do?
Who do you want to be? What do you want to be remembered for? Go be that person, do that thing, step out of your comfort zone. Marvin J. Ashton said, ” If we work, serve, improve now—each hour, each day will lead us onward and upward to a significant tomorrow in his paths. Believe me when I tell you God is well pleased when he sees us using our time wisely.” (1975–April Conference Report, p. 85, “The Time Is Now.”)
In other words, it doesn’t matter what you choose, but you must choose something. A good something. And you’ll know when it’s good, when it’s right, when it’s best. You’ll know because your actions are getting you closer to the person you want to be and become, and the things you want to accomplish.
Or as Elder Quentin Cook stated, “I believe it is of particular importance in our day, when Satan is raging in the hearts of men in so many new and subtle ways, that our choices and decisions be made carefully, consistent with the goals and objectives by which we profess to live. We need unequivocal commitment to the commandments and strict adherence to sacred covenants. When we allow rationalizations to prevent us from temple endowments, worthy missions, and temple marriage, they are particularly harmful. It is heartbreaking when we profess belief in these goals yet neglect the everyday conduct required to achieve them.” (2014–October Conference Report, p. 46, Quentin L. Cook, “Choose Wisely.”)
Now! What are you waiting for? Do not delay. Stop making excuses, because no, it is not too late, at least, not until the headstone is in place. Are you still alive? Then there is still time to be the person you want to be.
“How unwise we are to waste our todays when they determine the significance of our tomorrows. Today is the time for decision. Now is the time for action. Remember, tomorrow is connected with today, and what we do with today determines the tomorrow.” (1975–April Conference Report, p. 85, Marvin J. Ashton, “The Time Is Now.”)