As many of you know I recently lost my father. I have just returned from taking care of his affairs, and tending to my mother.

A few of you have written to me asking if I would please write about “death” when I am back among the matters of life. I’m not sure what and how to write about death per se. I don’t see death as the opposite of life; rather I see it as the end of just a single journey in the endless continuum of it all.

As people wrote to support me (thank you), and in the days that followed my dad’s passing, it became obvious to me how intimately connected the concepts of life and death are. Death reinforces life, yet the opposite is not true. We gather at someone’s passing because it is the most solid reminder of life. We come together for a brief time united in knowing, for just a while, what matters in life, and that life matters.

I wrote this memorial tribute to my dad. He was an avid reader of my blog posts, and I think he would have liked what is below. I think it would have “mattered” to him. Below I am not really writing about death; I’m writing about how death reminds us of what really matters in life. When your time comes, I imagine these things below are the common elements of life matters.

When your time comes…

  • What’s going to matter is not the question of how you died. What will matter is the statement you made in how you lived.
  • What’s going to matter is not whether life was good to you, but whether you were good to your life.
  • What’s going to matter is not all the things you were able to buy, but all the things you were able to build: in your head, in your heart, and in your world.
  • What’s going to matter is not all that you had when you died, but all that you gave while you lived.
  • What’s going to matter is not how tough or weak you were as a kid, but how strong you were as an adult.
  • What’s going to matter is not the people who let you down, but the people you lifted up.
  • What’s going to matter is not the pain you endured in your life, but the pain you let go of.
  • What’s going to matter is not the resentments you held onto, but the forgiveness you practiced.
  • What’s going to matter isn’t all the medications you took to add years to your life, but all the spirit you injected to add life to your years.
  • What’s going to matter is not how successful you were, but how significant.
  • What’s going to matter is not the kind of car you drove, but the kind of causes that drove you.
  • What’s going to matter is not how hard you worked, but how passionately.
  • What’s going to matter is not all the things you learned in life – but all the things you taught through your life.
  • What’s going to matter is not the level of competence you acquired, but the depth of your character you developed.
  • What’s going to matter is not the memories you had in life, but the memories you helped to create or be a part of, in other people’s lives.
  • What’s going to matter is not all the people you couldn’t care less about; but all the people you couldn’t care more about.
  • What’s going to matter isn’t what other people said about you, but what you said about other people.
  • What’s going to matter is not so much how long you are remembered, but by whom, and for what.
  • What’s going to matter is not how many people have touched you, but how many people you have touched – with a kind word, or a good deed.
  • What’s going to matter is not all the people who have hurt you; but all the people you have helped.
  • What’s going to matter is not necessarily all the mistakes you made; but all the course corrections you made in life from having learned from these mistakes.
  • What’s going to matter is not all the people you knew, or all the people who knew of you. What will matter will be the people who carry a sense of loss within them, about you being gone.

These are the matters of life, and life matters.

Memorial Tribute to Gordon (Bill) Abel (1928-2016)

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