What I inherited:
- A love of the Lord: It has been tempting to just walk away from God and to abandon my faith after such a tragedy. I trusted God to work things out. I trusted God to heal Mike. We had even been praying specific verses that assured us that God would rescue Mike and sustain him with a long life. That didn't happen. Despite the tragic circumstances, Mike fervently loved Jesus. Jesus has clearly been present throughout all of this. So, even though things didn't turn out as I'd prayed they would, God is still there. I will continue to love Him and live out my faith.
- A desire to learn new things: Mike never stopped learning. Whether he was attending an auto mechanic class, brushing up on his Italian, or reading a host of books and newspapers, he had a hunger for knowledge. There are some plans in the works that could potentially put me back in a classroom, but formal education or not, I vow to never stop learning.
- A desire to serve: He was a leader with a servant's heart. He coached youth soccer, started a Bible study (in middle school!), cooked for a lonely, old lady in his apartment building, and was the first one there to help Grams into her wheelchair. My "community service" attitude and activities have been put on the back-burner in recent years. It's time to get serious about service. This could be something as small as helping the wheelchair bound intern in my office or something as large as finally getting that non-profit rolling! Mike and I were working on that together. Either way, time to serve it up!
- The travel bug: In addition to discussing a temporary move to London, Mike and I sat down and made an "exploration map", otherwise known as a list of places we'd like to visit. The list contains over 100 destinations. We've always felt it is important to experience people different than us. What better way to do that than to be on their own turf! My grief has kept me close to home, but Mike would want me to get out and explore beyond 22314! Next destination? (London will have to wait for now.)
- Caring for others despite your own pain: Towards the end of Mike's life, he was in a great deal of pain. At that same time, I was having major surgery. Before the doctor had even walked away from briefing my parents on the outcome of my surgery, my mom's phone rang. It was Mike checking to see that I made it through without any issues. I also reflect back on our last conversation and now see ways in which he showed me he truly cared. Truthfully, I've found it difficult to care for others amidst my own heartbreak. Mike made an effort. Why shouldn't I?
- A smile: Dude had a smile that could light up the whole world! The last three months, grief has hidden my pearly whites. I'll tuck his smile in my heart and flash mine for the world to see.
It's never too early to start thinking about what you will leave behind to those you love.
Dude, I love you. Thanks for everything.