For as long as I can remember, I’ve wondered why we fondly share all the meaningful remembrances about someone after their death rather than when they were alive. When I read about celebrities and others and the beautiful statements made about them from their peers, I can’t help but think it would be great if this information we shared in their eulogy was told to the person while they were still with us.
As editor of both my high school and college newspaper and a Journalism major in my first years in college, I know that newspaper morgues have prepared obituaries that can be updated and put out quickly when a well-known person passes on. I understand the value to family and friends in the general public to be reminded of the person’s qualities and things that they did to make a difference.
It seems to me there’s something missing with this process when the person isn’t around to hear these heartfelt sentiments and how much of a difference that may have made.
I wonder what would happen if we shared with people in person, how much they mean to us, and what a difference they make in our lives.
Years ago, I took 15 people on 50-foot houseboat personal and spiritual retreats to Lake Powell in Arizona year-round. On one trip returning to Prescott from Page, Arizona, I was driving a large van on an isolated two-lane rural road with several of the retreat participants and no other vehicles in sight for miles. I was driving rather fast on the long straight flat road, and I continued looking farther up the road for safety when I noticed some movement.
I slowed the vehicle down without waking the passengers in the back. The person in the front passenger seat and I were mesmerized by what we observed on the road in front of us.
I pulled to a stop and observed two beautiful Collie dogs, each one facing the opposite direction of the road. In the middle were many sheep crossing from one side of the road to the other. There were no people anywhere to be seen.
It was an amazing sight to observe these two majestic dogs independently shepherding the sheep across the road, standing defiantly against any vehicles that could harm their flock. The focus and intensity of their herding instinct reminded me that domesticated dogs are decedents from wolves and use the circling and grouping moves I observed in the Collies.
It wasn’t until the last of the sheep crossed into safely that each of the dogs took one long look down the road and then followed the sheep.
The Collie facing our van looked me straight in the eyes, and I don’t believe it was my imagination that it had a twinkle in its eyes and a half-smile as the Collie jauntily continued its way towards its responsibility with the sheep.
The experience touched my naturalist’s heart and soul.