On the road in my treasured Jeep Cherokee. Just me and my Lily. Somewhere between two small Texas towns. The AC is out. Again. (It’s a long story). Warm air rushes around me as I head toward my cousin’s memorial service. It’s my favorite white noise. Sometimes I put my arm out the window and play with the wind. Up. Down. Up. Down.
I can’t hear my phone if I get a call or a text. For about an hour it’s just me, my Jeep, the wind on my skin, and the road ahead. Time to think and process where I’m going and what I’m doing. Not just the memorial service but all of it.
My mind wanders to conversation with a well-meaning friend about how I should keep my childhood artwork because it might be nice to display some at my funeral someday. My response was self-righteous and inconsiderate. Pssht. I’m a minimalist. I don’t keep anything. But she didn’t mean keep everything from childhood. She actually helped give me some boundaries in my quest for simplicity. My apology was a little late and a lot lame. I should have listened better. Been kinder in my response…
At the little church where we gather to honor and say farewell to my cousin I stare at the photos and things he left behind and my mind wanders again. I said goodbye to my father in the same church more than twenty years ago. I’ve since said goodbye to his three siblings there as well. I inherited things from all of them. Things. Stuff. But they left behind so much more: stories, kindness, an appreciation for hard work, and a deep love for people and Texas. I have no greater inheritance.
It’s a small service. My cousin was a natural minimalist. He lived on a small ranch in a small cabin. He fought illness and social stereotypes while training horses. People take turns standing up and telling stories about him. “He was kind.” “He loved people and animals with all of his heart.” “Even when in pain, he had so much joy.” My favorite words are “If you knew Larry, you loved him.”
And like a flash of sublime light it hits me. In seconds, several moments blend into that tiny church. My conversation with my friend about saving stuff for my funeral. Driving in my Jeep. The pictures of Larry. His saddle. Memories of my dad. My aunts. My uncle. The words. The beautiful, sweet words that people said about my cousin.
For just a few seconds I get it. All of it. Life and what is important is incredibly clear. And I want nothing more than to love on the people around me, shower the world in sunshine, and leave behind more kindness than nicknacks.
The drive home is hotter. I don’t mind. The wind dries my tears and the ice water by my side keeps me cool. I’m going back to my collection of things with a new perspective. My heart is full of what matters more than my Jeep, or the heat, or the road ahead…
Thank you for traveling this path with me, dear reader. The AC doesn’t always work but the road remains a wonderful teacher. Cheers!