Ryan told me that he loved me a few weeks ago and I know that he meant it, because shortly thereafter, he proclaimed it in writing on a small dry erase board with purple marker and told me that we should get married. And although I was flattered that he felt I was worthy of his heart, I was also trying to decide how to respond to such a claim, because you see..... Ryan is 5 years old.
I go and help out weekly in my 5-year-old's Kinder class and I don't know if it was the fact that I've helped him spell a few words here and there, the fact that I know my way around glitter glue and legos, or that I manage to sit down with the kids in their teeny tiny chairs, but for some reason, he took a liking to me....which I think we can all agree is....sweet.
However, after quickly going through all of my interactions with him and deciding that I didn't in fact, need to retain an attorney, I said to him...
"Ryan, that is so sweet... and I appreciate that very much. But you are only 5 right now and it's not time for you to love anyone like that. And by the time you should love a girl, I'll be like...a grandma to you! All old and shriveled up and you'll have to help me walk across the street and find my false teeth and stuff... When you're older you'll find a girl around your age and you'll be a very kind gentleman to her...and a good listener. You'll respect her and love her, but won't let her walk all over you. It'll probably happen in college... a four year University....somewhere with four seasons, but close to the water.... and you'll meet her your senior year...but won't get married right away....Anyway, you understand what I'm saying?" He pondered for a moment, looked me squarely in the eyes and replied, "I'm 5 and A HALF." Fair enough, Ryan, fair enough.
When do we stop tagging "and A HALF," onto our age? Well, I'm going to tell you right now.... I'm not stoppin'. I'm 39 and A HALF. And frankly I feel that it is a marker of sorts.... perhaps not every year, but for some reason this year it is. And I'm trying to be better. And kinder. And more graceful and more wise and more patient...by the time I turn 40....
And this is where I ask you to forgive the the non sequitur as I tell you that years ago I began writing eulogies about people I loved even though they had not died. The first eulogy I ever wrote was about a man named Chris...a remarkable man indeed...and after wishing I had said those things to him before he went to be with his Creator, I decided I'd write my loved ones their eulogies while they were still alive, so that there would be no question as to how much they meant to me. This seemed like a good idea to me then and in fact, still does...and if we're close, chances are I've written one about you. However, I've only given a handful out and sometimes hesitate to do so for fear of appearing morbid. Until, on my 39th birthday, one of my soul-sister Besties... handed me my very own eulogy in a beautiful black box complete with a rose. And it didn't feel morbid at all... And in spite of the fact that she is being very generous in both her description of me as well as her affection for me, if what she eulogized about me is not who I am... then it is most definitely who I desire and strive to be. So, while I'm 39 and A HALF, I'd like to share with you who I hope to one day die as, in,
The Eulogy of: Tava Sue Musial
Well, I think we can all agree: The World is a Lot Less Sparkly Today.
Tava had a magnetism, a zest and thirst for life, for novelty, for joy that made her larger than life. She appeared to us mere mortals as somehow…I’m tempted to say “Magical” (It’s not magic, Michael, it’s an illusion.”) …Okay, none of you are laughing, but trust me, if Tava were here, she would be dying! (No pun intended) …But that’s just it, in any sort of magic, there is an illusion. And in Tava, there was no room for that. What you saw was what you got. Authentic...full of integrity.
Tava had the unique ability of keeping her feet firmly rooted while also being a soaring dreamer. She was steady, grounded in Christ. She was quick-witted and would keep you laughing long and hard with a risqué joke at every turn ("That’s what she said.”). She could use her beautiful voice to wow alongside the Church Choir or to make a sailor (or airman-specifically Gary Moore) blush. She made a mean mojito. She had a tattered Bible. She never missed a chance to extend grace and share with others the Savior who led her life.
She loved love. And she knew about it. And she lived it. Or rather, let Love live through her. She once said, “Once Love even died on a cross so that I could have life everlasting. My heart knows that love makes it easy to forgive, easy to go without sleep and easy to put another before itself. My heart has been hurt and scarred, but it also been loved more than it’s deserved and sometimes even desired. “ She loved Christ. She loved being HIS child. She was somehow never judgmental of others and yet, unwavering in her choice to glorify Him in all things. She let her light shine that others might see her good works and glorify God. She invested in others. She listened and loved enough to ask the tough questions. She had the courage to say words that might be hard to hear coupled with the warmth to speak those words in love. She was truly beautiful….. she was pretty enough, smart enough, and witty enough that one might just be totally intimidated if she weren’t also truly beautiful in the way that radiates warmth and acceptance.
I am among the many who are better for knowing Tava. To steal a line from Wicked (we really should have written that!) “Because I knew (her), I have been changed for good.” Tava was a mentor who encouraged blatant honesty and courage to face truths. She was a friend who laughed at life even when she had to look hard to find the humor. She was a counselor who guided me to insights about myself then helped me to discover who God intended for me to be and encouraged me to grow. She came to my performances to spur me on. She cheered my successes. She saw my insecurities and didn’t shrink away.
In these kinds of speeches, it’s become somehow customary to say, “So-n-so was the kind of person who…” But Tava was not any “kind of person.” She was her own. Unique. One-of-a-kind. She was a dreamer. She was a “live life to the fullest, not afraid to get messy, stand in the gap, keep truckin’ through the valley, shout from the mountain top, let the wind blow through your hair, grasp every ounce of life” kind of dreamer. She was a wonderfully talented writer who didn’t bury the talent she was given but became the faithful servant who invested it, multiplied it, and allowed God to use it to draw others to Him.
Tava lived a life that is an example to all of us. An example of how to make the most out of every day, how to appreciate and enjoy the miracle of each and every day we are given. She knew that her life was blessed. She once wrote, “But above all, I’m lucky to know that the great fortunes of my life have not been dependent upon a charm, a clover or a horseshoe, but instead a Creator whose warm showers of love and grace cover even undeserving me. I’m lucky to know that my dumb luck isn’t luck at all…”
Tava knew she had a wonderful life. And she knew that it wasn’t chance but a wonderful blessing from God above. He offered her life abundant. She grasped it.
Finally, to those who will take care of her remains, I say this: Don’t put her in a box-she’d hate that. Okay, maybe it’s just us that would hate it since from our perspective she could never be put in a box- as for Tava, I doubt she really cares what happens to this earthly vessel as she is finally tasting the absolute freedom she always pursued.
*Whether you're 5 and a half or more, take some time out of your day to tell someone what's on your mind........ and your heart. :)