Laura lived my thesis.
On December 13, 2015, the the strongest, healthiest person I knew got sick while on a business trip in London. On March 19, 2016, she died quite suddenly at the age of 49. Nobody – I mean nobody – would have bet that her steps would stop counting so soon.
I won’t say Laura knew her steps were numbered. Yet, this was a woman who clearly lived each day – each moment – as if it might be her last.
Lots of people have bucket lists. Over the past seven years, I watched Laura consistently and with great purpose not merely cross off bucket-list items, but replace them with entirely new ones. I mean, who does that? Laura’s bucket list was an impossible one. No matter how many goals she achieved, the list never seemed shorter than 30. Til her dying day she maintained the glorious audacity to maintain as her last item “Cross everything off this list.”
Laura wasn’t just full of life. She was full of hope. Love for her friends. Empathy for everyone around her. She cared deeply and worked diligently to make the world a better place.
Her favorite thing to do every Christmas Eve – and she’d be angry to know I told you – was to drive across Lebanon County dropping money – often large bills – into Salvation Army kettles. It’s not that she was filthy rich. It’s not that she didn’t care about money. To the contrary, she cared very much about money – as a useful tool for helping people.
She spent years serving this community as a member of a local Relay for Life team, as a board member and fund-raiser for Lebanon County’s Sexual Assault Resource and Counseling Center, as a champion for local theater, as a cheerleader for local businesses. The turnout for her memorial service spoke volumes about the lives she’d touched.
Here was a woman who clearly lived to make each step count.
The irony here is that Laura was generally against my little quest. Oh, she never said so. She never outright discouraged me. She wasn’t into discouraging, in general. But she never understood my desire – my need – to whittle down to a sole focus. I think (again, she never stated this outright) she believed that all of my effort to cull distraction, to hone my purpose, was effort wasted. To her, counting steps was the absolute wrong way to make steps count.
Looking back over her life and the utterly selfless manner in which she lived it, I see her point.