Gifts and Benchmarks
To stay charming over the long haul, I believe it helps to look for gifts and benchmarks in life. A gift is an experience�either personal or not�that causes you to reflect on what�s important. Not that you must go through life looking for horrible, dramatic tales to bring perspective into your life, but it�s important to recognize those experiences for their significance when they do present themselves naturally. Again, these experiences are gifts, and they can become benchmarks in your life when they represent turning points of growth and change.
Following a bad experience, such as a home burning down in a neighborhood or the funeral of a loved one, people often say, �It�s so sad that something like this had to happen for us all to come together.� But the thing is, the experience did bring people together.
How many times have you watched the news on television and heard the devastating stories of parents losing a child? Hearing those stories brings tears to your eyes, helps you to appreciate your own family, and may cause you to tiptoe into the bedroom of your own sleeping children to give them a kiss and to stand there and stare with a new sense of love and appreciation. Though someone suffered by losing a loved one, you can consider these moments as gifts of life. They�re gifts to you because they remind you to stop, take inventory of what�s important, and renew your love and appreciation for your own family.
Remember, these experiences are gifts, and if you choose to give them value and awareness, they can be benchmarks for change in your life. I think of benchmarks in terms of before and after� �Before this happened, I didn�t appreciate my weekends with my children, but now I do.�
I was recently given one of life�s gifts that I�d like to proclaim as a major benchmark in my life. My very dear friends from Houston, Sandy and Rosie, were blessed with a beautiful baby boy named Steel, born nine weeks premature. Although Steel was able to grow, develop, and even come home from the hospital for two months, he eventually took a turn for the worse and passed away, only three and a half months old.
The gift that Sandy, Rosie, and Steel gave to me was in allowing me to be a part of all of it�the excitement of Rosie�s pregnancy, the struggle to make Steel grow strong, and the celebration of his young life after he died. Yes, sharing the experience of his death and funeral was a gift. Why? Because I grew more through all of that than I could have by attending a thousand seminars. The entire experience, sad as it was, proved to be a major benchmark in my life and has instantly put everything into perspective for me. Without sounding too dramatic, I can categorize my life as �Before Steel� and �After Steel.�
Sandy and Rosie asked me to speak at little Steel�s funeral, and this is what I said:
~For Sandy, Rosie, and Steel,
My altar is a quaint little table in a fabulous restaurant with amazing food, sharing a bottle of wine with people I love. I�ve shared that spiritual experience with Sandy and Rosie many times. My altar is in sharing and keeping embarrassing secrets with each other. We�ve shared those secrets with each other. My altar is in scheming to do a fun business project with someone that I meet and instantly like. Sandy, Rosie, and I have been scheming since we first met.
I believe that spirituality is a very personal thing, that there are thousands of genuine spiritual paths, and that each of us has the responsibility and the adventure of discovering the path that works for us. My spiritual beliefs tell me that communication doesn�t end at death. Steel is still broadcasting. It�s just that he is now on Channel 4, and you�re still watching Channel 5. My challenge to you, Rosie and Sandy, is to hold on tight to each other, be listening and watching, because Steel is communicating with you.
I�ve thought a lot about what this all means, and here�s what I came up with. I have this very vivid and strong visual of Sandy, Rosie, and Steel meeting together many thousands of years ago in another place, discussing the relationship they�d have together on this earth, in this lifetime. And if you consider this life as a time to learn and grow, then my visual of Steel is him telling Sandy and Rosie, �You both need to be on earth for about eighty-plus years to learn everything you need to learn. I only need to be there for a couple of months.�
You see, all I can come up with is that Steel was so perfect that he really didn�t need to be here on this earth for very long. He came here, he taught his parents about a love they�d never experienced before, and then he moved on. It�s not a tragedy, it�s a gift.
I didn�t get to meet little Steel, but I know and love his parents. Sandy and Rosie, when you�re in pain, I�m in pain. When you cry, I cry. When you want to think and reminisce about Steel, I�ll be your captive audience. And when you�re ready to laugh again, please know that I want to be there, too.
All my love, Winn � Winn Claybaugh