I was driving through town the other day when I caught sight of a sign that read: RIP Nancy Jo. We will miss you! A few blocks up, another sign echoed the same sentiment and a few blocks after that, so did another. I couldn’t help but think, whoever Nancy Jo was, I sure hope she knew how much she was loved when she was alive. Which, of course, made me question – do I do a good enough job letting people how how I feel about them? Do my friends and family know how much I would miss them if they were gone? The answer is, probably not.
I like to think that I do a good job. I always kiss my mom goodbye when I leave and we end every text conversation with “Later. I love you!” I try to find ways to show Angie every single day how much I love and appreciate her. I make a habit of always answering the phone when my niece calls and telling her I love and support her no matter what. These are the people I interact with most in my daily life, but they are not the only people that mean something to me, and I’d venture a guess that few of them know how much I think about and care about them.
All this led me to an idea. I have no clue what to call it, so we’re going to go with a living tribute (even though that still sounds kind of final to me). I suppose, if this were a book, I’d call it the acknowledgements. Anyway, this week, the goal is to tell as many people as I can just what they mean to me (or us, as the case may be). So I’ll start right here…
To our readers, we truly appreciate you! You are always there to provide encouragement and keep us accountable to our minimalist principles. Though we may never meet, we count you among our friends. We love you and are so glad you are here!
To our friend Linda, you have absolutely no idea how your adventures inspire us. Many times we’ve been discouraged by our inability to travel and then, scrolling through Facebook, we see how excited you are to take the dog to the park or explore a town right down the road, and we instantly feel better. So often, we have said on those days when we just can’t figure out what to do with ourselves, “what would Linda do?”. You are one of the happiest people we know and we are so proud to be your friend.
To our friend Suzanne, you are the person we want to be when we grow up. You helped us feel a sense of belonging when we were neighbors and you taught us not to sweat the small stuff. Just yesterday, Angie and I were discussing a problem when she said, “You know what Suzanne would say, right? She’d tell us to just stop doing it. Period.” Your wisdom is with us every day.
To our friend Melissa, you inspire us to live our dreams. When you exited your “normal life” to buy a campground in the middle of nowhere, we thought you were so brave and well, cool and exciting too. You are the embodiment of “living your best life” and watching you succeed, give us the courage to try new things too.
To my friend Deb, you believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. You probably don’t know this but I had all but given up when I first moved back to Tennessee. I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, between trying to balance work and being there for my mom. I felt overwhelmed and alone. Then you shared your story and worked with me to bring things into better balance. You have thrown more work (and clients) my way over the years than I can count, and for that and your friendship, I am truly grateful.
To my old friend Rob, I have never forgotten you. Without your guidance and encouragement as my mentor and friend, I know without a doubt, I would not be the person I am today. You taught me to take risks, to try new things, to go with my gut, and to always have a goal. You helped me find my voice when I had given up hope of ever having one of my own. Being with you often took me so far out of my comfort zone that now, there are very few things I don’t feel confident to try. I feel blessed to have had you in my life.
To my friend Sue, there’s so much I could say. You were there for all the crazy adventures I dreamed up, from creating a frugal travel website to visiting every thrift store in Colorado. You taught me how to dumpster dive and sell coupons on eBay. And you helped me through the roughest time of my life by giving me a place to stay (and teaching me how to make pancakes out of day-old donuts). But more importantly, you showed me that being yourself and having fun are the secret to a life well lived.
To my friend Jill, my birthday was this month and I couldn’t help but remember how you threw me the best (and first) birthday party I ever had. Though the gift did not work out 🙂 I will never forget how you took the time to make me feel like I was a part of your family.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. I could probably go on all day, I’ve been blessed to have so many wonderful people pass through my life, but I will pause here.
I still don’t know Nancy Jo and I don’t know whether she knew the depth of her friends’ love and appreciation when she was alive, but I do know that (unless ghosts really do exist) she certainly can’t know it now that she has passed. So, if there are people in your life that you aren’t sure know their worth to you, I encourage you to tell them. Now.
If you’d like to leave your own living tribute for a friend or loved one in the comments below, you’re welcome to do so.