This “What’s on My Mind” post reflects on lessons learned as we face daily news of death caused by the pandemic and the passing of national icons. While this is a topic that we do not necessarily welcome, I believe it can trigger the need for greater appreciation for those living around us.
It is often during times of grief caused by the death of a beloved, colleague, or national figure that one reflects on the celebration of their life accomplishments or in some cases, unfortunately the inadequacy to which we deeply appreciated or acknowledged their unique and special lifetime contributions.
In the backdrop of the nearly 200,000 deaths in the United States caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we find ourselves reflecting on those of stature who have died this year such as John Lewis, Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian, actor Chadwick Boseman, HIV/AIDS activist Larry Kramer, mathematician Katherine Johnson (featured in Hidden Figures) and most recently Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. With such prominent figures we are provided ample, easily accessible, and detailed narratives about their impactful and influential life presence.
In the case of Justice Ginsburg perhaps we did not fully understand or appreciate her seminal work to achieve equal rights for women or the magnitude of her trailblazing pre-Supreme Court work including: co-founding the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU, arguing numerous groundbreaking equal rights and equal protection cases, and serving as U.S. Court of Appeals judge. While I had consumed her very popular “Notorious RBG” lore while she was alive, I too failed to fully appreciate and understand the magnitude of her full life story.
For most of the tragic COVID-19 casualties there are no Wikipedia citations, CNN online news briefs, or public testimonies celebrating their lives. While these types of post-living public accolades are certainly not required to validate the worth or meaning of any individual, the actions do signal the importance of mere recognition, understanding, and appreciation.
Time and time again as extraordinary people pass, whether nationally recognized/revered or not, I find myself recognizing a failure to fully realize their impactful human attributes while they were still alive. Had I been armed with this type of personal knowledge, perhaps my daily and immediate actions and outlook on life would have been more deeply and positively enhanced – an opportunity lost.
So as I continue to reflect on the lifeforce of our colleague Gina Neskovic, I ask myself, how much more my life would have been enriched if I was afforded the opportunity to more fully know her before she passed. Please take an opportunity today, even in the virtual online work and living space we find ourselves in, to commit to more deeply knowing and appreciating your colleagues and loved ones. These insights, albeit not publicly proclaimed in the news, will strengthen your ability to impact the common good and live a more appreciative life now.