A friend passed away recently. She was young – my age, with a son, making it feel so much closer to home. I hadn’t known her for that long, my connection originating through a friendship with her husband. During the very moving service, the words of the many people who spoke resonated loudly. It was as though missing pieces of my understanding of their lives were suddenly found in place.

The experience invokes a picture of a large, colorful mosaic. Different pieces held by those who bear witness to us. Some have held close throughout our lives, starting from childhood and sharing the big milestones as well as the sprinkle of ordinary moments – the ones that form the indelible memories that carry us to the end. And then there are those we meet on the every day journey. Perhaps through our children’s soccer league or at the work place. They start from a shared experience, but as the years pass, they too become intertwined in the fabric of our long-term lives. We come to realize upon the look back that they know us and have shared a piece of us in a way that stakes a claim. So many variations bringing the pieces together in each of our stories.

After attending the service, I am aware of so many different people in my life. And myself in theirs. I realized that it doesn’t matter if we don’t speak for months or if we see each other every day. In the end we each reflect different pieces of each others mosaic. Our fixation with all things now seems to undermine the notion that who we are flows from then to now to then. And time really isn’t linear.

And so I hang up my guilt for not having talked to my closest friends in so many months or the belief that somehow we are not as close as a result. Instead I honor every connection for what it is. I surrender to what my heart has known all along – our relationships transcend time. Our connection whether for a passing moment or for the duration, informs that which we leave behind – the expression of our Self.

I believe each person’s passing brings forth a gift. In my friend’s passing, it is the reminder of this remarkable shared experience I am having with so many others. They are the keepers of my life’s story and I have the honor of beholding theirs. More than that, it is seeing one another, being breathed in for our individual uniqueness and loved in that breathing. When it’s all said and done, breathtaking really.