We slide onto the two seats left in the mortuary on the back row. Pick up the white ribbon with gold letters lying on the upholstered chair. I notice everyone seated holds one, along with a handful of tissues.
My stepmom stands in front of the crowd, beside the table with my brother’s picture and the flickering taper candle. She holds up the ribbon, explains what it means.
Who I am makes a difference. It’s the painted inscription on white with zigzag edges.
She asks us to give it away to someone that’s made a difference in each of our lives. Give it away in honor of my brother. Because rebirth takes place in unleashing affirmation and if you don’t tell them – how their life changed yours – who will?
On the heels of death comes a crack in the door revealing slanted light to set men free.
I’ve opened my hands to accept the gift, basking in the brightness. Wandered in dark rooms empty, harboring the gift of thanks seated at a table for one. Today, sitting among strangers beside death, I think about giving a box of ribbons away to a crowd gathered in my mind, seated at a banquet table.
But I wonder; would there be a seat at the table for me? Am I making a difference? To anyone?
Later, I lean over the hotel sink, hands marbled in soapy bubbles. Glance from my tired reflection in the mirror to the photo card lying on top of the rolled white tower.
I read, Help Make a Difference, printed white on blue.
The hotel is talking about preserving water, not souls, but I can’t help but see His finger pointing to the card. He knows how my heart stands at attention with an echo.
I want to make a difference, I tell him. But I don’t know how.
A few days later, I grab my phone from the charging station as my husband taps the alarm and rolls out of bed. I pull reading glasses from the nightstand, scroll through middle of the night emails and I’m surprised by the name I see on the list.
A friend I haven’t heard from in fourteen years. We’ve reconnected on Facebook. She reminds me of a prophetic dream I had about her being pregnant with their first child. She’s two weeks away from delivering their sixth. Then she affirms how the parenting classes H and I taught still make a difference in their family. How she was inspired to start a Mom’s group in her church, like the one I pioneered all those years ago in Phoenix.
I lay frozen on the pillow, fixated on the ceiling in remembering what time forgot.
Then I think about ten years of rejection slips from publishers for Madeline L’Engle before she realizes writing success. Sixty rejections for Kathryn Stockett before The Help, her first book, becomes a bestseller. After ten years creating 2100 works, Vincent van Gogh’s paintings become widely acclaimed after his early death. The way critics pan Les Miserables as inept, immoral and overly sentimental upon its first printing 150 years ago.
One day is a thousand years and one thousand years is a day to God. 2Peter 3:8
And perhaps in all our trying to make a difference, we already have. We just may not realize it in our lifetime. Or maybe we’ll receive the return mail of thanks fourteen years later. It’s really up to Him isn’t it?