Make Your Life Count: One Weekend, Two Funerals, and Three Things I Learned
For the first time in my life, I attended the homegoing services of two people in one weekend.
One was for a woman who had lived a long, full life and the other…she was my age. Only thirty-six years old.
In totally different ways but both were connected to my first book and both made me reflect on my life.
As death always does.
As a senior in college, I fell in love with a basketball player.
We had fun, and my son was crazy about him. However, it didn’t work (details are in my book, Life After Birth). But even after we broke up, I stayed close to his family. They were like my family in Memphis since I had no family here. On Sundays, my son and I went to church with them. After church…every Sunday… his grandmother, Mrs. Marian Grice, cooked a feast. My son and I had a family to have Sunday meals with even though my ex and are were no longer together. His family still welcomed me. So when I learned of her passing, I had to go and show the family that although I had not been around in years, I cared and wanted to show my support.
She was that sassy grandmother that you knew not to cross but showed love in her own way.
From what I knew, her love was demonstrated through her ministry of cooking and gathering family for meals. And my son and I were welcomed as a family (even when my ex had new girls around).
The next day, I saw a sweet, young (very young) lady be laid to rest. Brandolyn (Brandy) Perry was a cousin of my cousin who I had gotten to know. When I was looking for someone to format my book to the specifications of the publisher, my cousin suggested Brandy. She did an awesome job and even added the hearts as bullets for the Lessons Learned at the end of each chapter. Every time I look at those hearts, I think of Brandy and will do so forever.
Brandy was only thirty-six years old, just like me. She was her parent’s only child and had no children of her own. And she was funny, quiet, and such a sweet spirit. It still feels so sad and so unreal that she’s gone. I honestly still have not processed it.
Death is hard no matter what age a person is when their time comes, and it’s so hard to understand and accept.
For me, it doesn’t even matter if I’m close to the person or know them well, I hurt. I cry. Also, I feel for the families. And I examine myself.
As I watched the loved ones gather to remember each of these women’s, I imagined how things would be when it was my time to go and thought about these three things that I will use to guide the days that I have left – no matter how many or how few they are.
- How will I be remembered? When you’re gone. You’re gone, and all people will have are memories of you. What they will remember are their experiences with you. How you made them feel. How you helped or hurt them. I want to be remembered as someone who helped more than I hurt others and as someone who selflessly gave of herself to help others have better lives.
- What will outlive me? What will I leave the world? You know the saying that some of the best ideas and plans are in the grave. I’m thankful that I’ve written and published part of my story which I pray will help and encourage people forever, but I have so much more to say and so much more to share. I am more inspired than ever to write more, give more and do more…right now.
- Where will I go for eternity? Funerals always give you a reality check about your own mortality. I try to live right and honor God, but I plan to do better and do more. I am a Christian and want to spend eternity in Heaven.
Life is short whether you live to old age like Mrs. Grice or die as young as Brandy.
We have to live life planning for tomorrow yet understanding that tomorrow is not guaranteed. Death is a sensitive, scary, and sad subject. However, it is a part of life-S.O. What!. I will use each day to leave something that will outlive me whenever my time comes and pray that I spend eternity in Heaven while my life on earth continues to bless others.
How can you make the most of your life on earth to have it outlive you?
I’m Summer Owens, and my passion is helping youth and young adults realize success no matter what obstacles they face. As an international resilience and leadership keynote speaker, author, S.O. What! Success Coach, and creator of the S.O. What! Literacy, Life Skills, and Character Education curriculum, I empower people to say, “So what!” to even their greatest challenges. provide a framework to help people see past their challenges and focus on solutions using the S.O. What! Success System (Overcome Obstacles + Eliminate Excuses + Calculate Choices = S.O. What! Success). Through keynotes, workshops, books, online courses, and workbooks, I use life’s challenges and my own story of resilience as a rape survivor and teen mom success story to help others confidently pursue their dreams.
Looking for an inspiring college motivational speaker? A high school literacy curriculum? A middle school life skills workbook? A great example for teen mothers? A women’s empowerment or single mother’s conference speaker? I’m your girl and will help any audience say, “S.O. What!”.
I have to agree with you Summer. Death do not have an age on it but it is so sad to see so many people that I know passed away. It hurts my heart so much because I always reflect on my life after a funeral because it could have been me. I am a Christian and I always try to treat everyone nice because I want to be remember as a woman of God but most important she treated everyone nice and was pleasant to be around. I live everyday as it is my last day on this side. Life is hard but know that if God allow you to see another day on this side there is still work for you to do.