A cheerful friend is like a sunny day spreading sunshine all around. – John Lubbock
Sunshine. It’s elusive. It’s the light in our days. It’s the light in our relationships that brings us joy.
Among friends, we remember the ones who bring us extra sunshine, by their mere presence in our lives. When that light is gone, when that friend passes on, it’s the remembrance of their sunshine that lives on.
Marcel Proust spoke about sunshine in a beautiful way:
Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
Flickers from the corners of our minds will cross our awareness from time to time of friends gone. They’re here with us in spirit. The beauty is that it’s the sunshine of their memory that filters through to us – like a footprint in the sand, or perhaps even more metaphorically, like a footprint on the moon.
Magically, when you wish you could go back to that place, you can. You can draw it into your heart. Voila! The memory, the footprint, is still there.
Can we wave a magic wand and conjure up a memory? Yes, I’ve discovered. We can. In our minds, eons of time may have seemed to slip by. Yet, in our hearts, the sunshine of the joy that person sprinkled around us can blossom, and even grow.
Moments frozen in time, archived in our hearts, we find available to comfort our soul when we least expect them.
I‘ve been reflecting on all these things since Paul, a friend from our church, died mid-October.
We’ve known Paul and his family for many years. Paul loved to tease me with the Johnny Cash song: Sue, how do you do! He’d look into my eyes with the biggest smile, a grin from ear to ear, and a glint of happiness – that elusive sunshine – that melted any minor annoyance (as a fairly shy and reserved type) I might have felt for for being singled out by A Boy Named Sue. That was just Paul’s way of giving me a heart hug.
At the service, the pastor spoke of our fun-loving Paul, whose happiness was in making you laugh, asking if anyone would like to come up and tell their favorite story of Paul’s effect on their life. I thought of that favorite memory, but declined to get up and tell it to the folks in the overflowing funeral home. Writing about it later seemed right for me.
I was glad, though, that our former church organist, Sarah, felt moved to talk about her memory of Paul. It’s a sweet story that many who were present could recall. As she shared her memory, those fun moments came alive in mine. I could picture Sarah and Paul and the sunshine they both sprinkled around them and the congregation during those years. It’s a wonderful memory.
Sarah later described it in a Facebook posting:
Paul loved lively fast music. I once told him that sugar made me play fast. Every Sunday for the next five years, he placed a candy bar on the organ for me. Fifty-two Sundays, times five years, equals a lot of candy bars.
Paul, posted Sarah, was a family man, happy all the time and constantly telling jokes. His flair for telling jokes and stories reminds me of verses in a favorite John Denver song:
Sunshine, on my shoulders makes me happy, Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry, Sunshine on the water looks so lovely. Sunshine almost always makes me cry.
If I had a tale that I could tell you, I’d tell a tale sure to make you smile, If I had a wish that I could wish for you, I’d make a wish for sunshine all the while.
At the service, Sarah offered a reflection for us to consider, when thinking of Paul and the legacy of fun and sunshine he left for his loved ones. In expressing her memory of him, she asked us to think about our personal legacy and the footprints we are making in this life of ours.
Following up on her Facebook post, she posed the same thought: What kind of footprint are you leaving on this earthly walk…maybe time for a little soul searching.
What a remarkable life, when the memories of our daily actions provoke such feelings in those we’ve encountered on our journey. Paul’s life touched so many family and friends, merely by being true to his authentic self, and genuinely wishing to make us laugh, smile, and enjoy sunshine all the while.
I ask the same as Sarah — What footprints are we leaving? What sunshiny fairy dust will sparkle through the hearts of those we leave behind? What will be our legacy?
During an excavation excursion among souvenirs I recently uncovered in our home, I found a coffee mug, decorated with flowers. It’s caption: Friendship is a bouquet of precious memories. How fitting to find it now.
Among the trail of memories we leave, what moments of sunshine will our loved ones find?
Like our friend, Paul, may they be moments from a happy, charming gardener, whose sweet blossoms (like candy bars left on the organ) brighten their faces and make them smile.