I'm glad you are here to celebrate!
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|image from The Giving Keys website|
Ever since May, I've been wearing a Giving Key necklace. The Giving Keys is a pay it forward company that helps people move out of homelessness. I bought it at the same time that I bought Kim's retirement gift. (If you missed last week's celebration, click here to read about my friend Kim.)
It was the perfect gift. Kim and I often exchanged kitschy jewelry. The key held an extra meaning because Kim was a realtor. She also believed in supporting organizations that made the world better. She liked companies with a cause. I gave Kim a key stamped with the word INSPIRE. She was a beacon of inspiration for many people.
Personally, Kim inspired me as an educator, momma and business woman by the way she unabashedly loved people. She was over the top in the love department. She never worried about whether it was her place to love people; she just did. So while I was buying Kim a necklace for her retirement gift, I bought one for myself too. Mine was stamped with the word LOVE.
Kim loved her necklace. (I knew she would.) And she loved that I bought a similar one as a reminder to love without embarrassment. She giggled when she saw me and we were wearing our necklaces. She would lift her key and shake it, saying, "I love this!"
The premise of The Giving Keys is to "embrace your word, then pay it forward to a person you feel needs the message more than you." I've been wearing my necklace and learning to love in bold and unprecedented ways. I was beginning to think maybe I wouldn't be positioned to pass it on. I wasn't sure if I would ever master the message of radical love. Then Kim died suddenly, and I didn't know if I would want to pass on my necklace.
I wore it to the Celebration of Life. Standing in line, there was a teacher who Kim mentored. I do not know the teacher personally, but I know her through Kim's stories. Kim loved the way this young teacher loved children. Kim believed this teacher has much to offer other teachers. Often I would ask about her, much like I asked about Kim's sons. Kim would rattle off a story from her kindergarten classroom, and glow at the way this teacher has developed the art of teaching.
She wept softly as we waited to go into the gym. My heart cracked with sadness. I wanted to hug her, to whisper, "It's all good," and to slip my LOVE necklace over her head. Kim would have liked that.
Instead I stood silently.
I wore the necklace to the funeral. We remembered Kim for her big love. It was impossible love. No one could possibly love as big and as much as Kim. Yet she did it. The pastor said it was because Kim knew the love of God and passed it on to others.
I knew it was time to give LOVE away, except I felt embarrassed about giving my necklace to someone I barely knew. It took me a few days to muster up the courage. I kept wearing the necklace that began to feel like stolen treasure. No longer was it mine to wear.
I wrote a note to the teacher.
I thought about what to say.
I waited until after school.
I took a deep breath, walked down the hall, through the classroom door and across the room to the teacher.
I leaned into love.
I stumbled over the words.
I told bits of the story.
I blinked back tears.
I pressed LOVE into her hand and said, "This is so you'll always remember how much Kim loved you and how much your love matters to others. Don't grow weary."
I hugged her, a stranger who no longer felt like a stranger, and left the room.
Giving LOVE in a bold way made me feel a little embarrassed. I wished I could have been someone different, someone whom she called friend. I wondered if she would wear the necklace.
It's all good. It was a wisp from my heart, but I knew it was true.
Today, the teacher stopped by my door to talk. She was wearing LOVE around her neck. It is true, we can't love too much.
It's all good.