Proof of Life
Journal Entry No. 01
Welcome to the first Proof of Life journal entry.
Writing more in general and specifically with you is something I hope to continue throughout the year. Like many of you, life has become clearer over the past year and there are many things I have dropped along the way that I deeply desire to pick back up. In turn, there are things I never want to pick up again.
From the very beginning, I have always felt like we are on this journey together and I can’t wait to hear what proof of life will come to mean to you.
A few years ago Mary-K Mullin, a girl I went to high school with, died from a brain tumor. When I first found out she was sick and that it was terminal I wrote her this message.
Mary-K, I have just heard the saddest news and I can’t even believe it is true. I don’t want to waste one more second telling you something while I still can because I have thought of it hundreds of times over my life. When we were seniors in high school we were all supposed to stand up and recite something. I don’t even remember the assignment except that it was in Mrs. Nevenhoven’s class. We all half-ass got up and recited something but not you. You started reciting freaking Hamlet. You gave it your all. I have thought many times of how you didn’t care and just were you way before I knew how to be me. You had the strength of character to know who you were even in high school. I have often wished I could go back and do those years again and just follow what I knew to be me but afraid to do it. I should have done more theater, created an art studio up in our barn loft and I should have gone to art school because it just made me happy. I can not even count how many times I have thought of you standing up and reciting, “To die, to sleep – to sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub, for in this sleep of death what dreams may come…”. You made me see. You have made me see over and over through the years and we were never even near each other. You lived boldly and I promise to live more boldly because of you. Jeanne
I came across the above message just the other day and then the next day I read the following from Martin Luther King Jr. …
“You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid…. You refuse to do it because you want to live longer…. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you, or shoot at you or bomb your house; so you refuse to take the stand.
Well, you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
I have been thinking a lot of this “Proof of Life”. Are there areas in my life where I am still acting like that 17-year-old sitting in Mrs. Nevenhoven’s class? What will I look back on if I have the privilege of living to an old age and wish I could do it over and show up? Do I ever worry that because my voice will be shaky and my words not polished or perfect that I don’t still open my mouth and speak? I can tell you with all honestly that it has stopped me in the past for sure. Will I offend? Will I say it “right”? I probably don’t know enough about XYZ to debate this or put my thoughts out there or a million other lies that keep me quiet.
I don’t know what is stirring in you. I don’t know if there is a little bit leftover from you feeling like a 17-year-old sitting in a high school class but Mary K would give anything to still show up. I still get to. I still can. I want my whole life to drip with proof that I am alive and that I choose to live! So, this first journal entry is to stand next to you, and maybe we can hold each other’s hands and do the hard and scary things together. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just can be.