McCrabb: For this new year, I’m committing myself to what’s really important

When it comes to attending weddings and funerals, I’m a listener, a learner. I soak them up like a sponge.

I love sitting quietly in churches or funeral homes as couples exchange traditional wedding vows or family members deliver timeless eulogies. Those words — sometimes hard to understand because of the weeping in the room — describe the lives of the newlyweds or the person lying in the casket.

This month, incredibly, three of my high school classmates have buried their aging parents, and another good friend lost his father.

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While filled with heartache, funerals provide me an opportunity to reflect on my life and what’s truly important. I use them as another life lesson because learning never ends.

After reading the obituaries, listening to the eulogies or talking to my grieving friends, here’s what keeps ringing true: Life is all about family and friends. Work is overrated. As is the fame and fortune we chase.

No one on their death bed ever says, “I wished I worked more.”

The words spoken at funerals can leave an indelible mark. As a child, there can’t be anything more difficult than delivering your parent’s eulogy. The words would be difficult to pen, impossible to convey a loved one’s life in two pages of notes.

I’ve never heard a eulogy address the size of people’s 401K, the number of rooms in their house, the price of their sports cars in the garage.

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Instead, they touch on the legacy the person left. The way they remained married, their commitment to their careers, the manner they raised their children, the way those loved coaching baseball, their endless love of their grandchildren.

Stuff that matters.

As we flip the calendar, here’s what I hope to accomplish more in 2019: Leave work on time, put my cell phone away during dinner, don’t turn on my work computer on vacation, take more photos, write more thank-you cards, play more golf, hit more trifectas at the horse track, watch every hole of my daughter’s college golf career.

Breathe a little.

The older I get, the more I realize it’s about living every day to its fullest. I heard a recent Sunday sermon, and the pastor’s point was simple: Live for today. You can’t change yesterday. And tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.

That certainly has hit home this month.

During these funerals, I loved looking at the photo boards or watching the video slideshows at the visitations. They gave me a snapshot of that person’s life through the lens of a camera. Photos showed the way they loved the outdoors, the way they walked their daughter down the aisle, they way they looked as a younger man, a cigarette dangling out of their mouths.

We all have those photos — some of them black and white Polaroids — stuffed away in boxes and stored in a closet. We forget about them until they become cherished treasurers after we lose a loved one.

One day they will get down a box of my photos.

I hope they show me with my family and friends.

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