Very recently, on June 23rd, I had the opportunity to express my gratitude to the world when my husband and I gave bursaries to some deserving youths on their graduation from high school. On the occasion of giving away the bursaries, I did something which was one of the most difficult things that I have ever done as a School Trustee – I gave a speech to the graduating class most whom knew my son Alex and were deeply affected by his recent death. It was a liberating experience to express what I felt in front of all those young souls in an inspirational way.
Here is an extract from my speech. Needless to say, I felt Alex’s presence and his love gave me the courage to convey what was in my heart.
“The future is unknown and many of you sit here today not sure of what lies ahead. Take peace in knowing that it is guaranteed to hold adventure, choices and unlimited possibilities. Will you travel? Continue your education? Get married? Have children? Move away? Stay here? Work at your dream job? Create a business? The world truly is your oyster, and your future is yours to mold, shape and enjoy.
“For those of you who are unaware, our family lost our talented, loving, passionate son Alex a few months ago. Alex knew most of you, and played sports with many of you. His loss has been felt deeply within our family and within the community as a whole.
“In the days before Alex passed, he painted a beautiful scene with a road leading off towards a star-filled twilight sky. For Alex, this may have symbolized his journey towards the stars as he passed on. For you, this road would symbolize your journey toward the stars… which are the infinite possibilities that your life holds! For you, and for Alex, I ask you to do the following.
“Enjoy your life with as much enthusiasm and passion as you can. Try new things. Learn. Take risks! Appreciate every day. Have fun and laugh! And enjoy the possibilities that lie ahead for you in your careers, relationships, and journeys. Jim Carey recently said in a commencement, “you can fail at what you don’t want to do, so you may as well take a chance doing what you love.””
To be in the moment or to go on with momentum.
We are all passing through. It’s perhaps a misguided sense of ownership or pride that makes us believe that this place that we are in now belongs to us or we belong here.
Our physical presence may belong here but spiritually we belong in the journey, in the universe, in the scheme of things which is much larger than what we can even begin to perceive.
Our lives have a momentum. We are moving towards something bigger than us. What it is we do not know. We can fear the unknown or we can have faith in our self.
Our life is but a part of a bigger journey. The journey teaches us that no matter how beautiful, happy, sad or despairing the present is, it will change. Everything is temporal. For some of us, the joy and comforts that we experience now may lull us into the complacent belief that it can go on forever. That’s why when pain or suffering comes along, it may become unbearable.
What we think is long lasting becomes too short when it is over. What we think is short lived is just a moment of truth. If we understood this we can create many moments of truth that can last us a lifetime and provide spiritual sustenance and support in moments of despair.
Don’t skim the surface. Dive deep.
Every time I see the painting that Alex made of a road leading to a starlit sky, I get a renewed sense of meaningfulness, purpose and hope. He painted this just before he left us. I can only imagine the depth of the despair that he was looking at which led him to take his own life.
Yet, in that painting, I can also now see hope aspiring to reach a place or a state of clarity and realization. I can now see ‘The Straight Road to Heaven’ as Alex’s attempt to express the confusion and pain that he experienced in his life, and his faith in finding peace and happiness in what lay beyond.
The painting is an important legacy. I realize that in many ways, Alex is speaking to me and touching our lives like he never did when he was physically amongst us.
Most often, without realizing it, we see only the superficial. When we say something, we don’t realize what it really means. When we perform an action, it is done as a reaction, just a reflex action. I now realize what it means to do something or say something with feeling. It requires a lot of courage and strength to look deep within our soul.
Thank you, Alex for the wisdom and revelation. Every time, I look at the painting, I feel your love reaching out and touching our lives in myriad ways and realize how much this means to me.