….how you impact someone else’s life. Case in point, and unfortunately I have many cases like this: In 1992 my cousin was killed in a plane crash. Even if you’ve experienced death, the traumatic surprising death of someone so young and so vital is especially devastating, life-affirming, life-changing, depressing, moving, deeply affecting, and I could go on.

A year after he died I wrote my aunt and uncle a “thinking of you”-type of note. They wrote ME back to say thank you, and said they were glad I remembered him, because their biggest fear was that he would be forgotten.

I was thrown for a loop by that—they were worried we would forget him?! How do you forget someone you loved, even with the passage of time?! I have since read (in several books) that this is every parent’s fear—that their dead child will be forgotten. I sincerely do not understand this, nor will I ever since I’m not a parent.

But of course I remember him, as I remember everyone I know who has died. Anyway, up until the year my aunt (his mother) died, I sent her and my uncle a note every year. Regardless, I have called his sister every year—they were best friends—and we usually end up crying together and laughing a little too.

This year, I just couldn’t call her at work again, and make her cry at work again. I thought she appreciated my calls, but she’s too darn nice to tell me not to call, but I wanted her to know I hadn’t forgotten, so I left a message at her house so she wouldn’t feel traped into talking if she didn’t want to. I just told her that (as I often do), I was thinking of her and of her brother, and that I didn’t want to make her cry at work this year!

She left me a message in return, saying how much she appreciated my remembering him and thinking of her. She said some years are harder than others (still), that she was just so glad I remembered. Her voice cracked a couple of times just in the voice mail, and it sounded like this year might be one of the harder years…

Anyway, my point in all this is that you never know how much you impact someone else’s life or how much a simple gesture can mean to someone. I would never have realized someone could even think we could forget my cousin, or that a simple call each year could be so sincerely appreciated…

I wish I had a great thought to complete this entry with, but I guess I’d just say that you, dear reader, may not know how much a simple gesture might affect someone. Maybe you engage a harried cashier in a brief “crappy day, huh?” conversation, or you let someone go before you at the stop sign, or you drop off some flowers at a neighbor’s—what if that was the only good thing that happened to them that day?!

What if it was just the lift they needed to get through an especially hard day? Or it gave them joy to know that someone thought well of them? Or even (in a George Bailey-esque moment) stopped them from killing themself? You just never know the effect you have on someone.