I’m glad you are here to celebrate!
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|image from The Giving Keys website
I gave LOVE away this week.
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.
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Again I say, your love is deep and wide for those you keep close to your heart, and those close to others.
It IS all good, Ruth. What a beautiful story and way to honor your dear friend Kim. I have a Giving Key necklace that was given to me as well. Mine says BRAVE.
I'm so sorry for your friend's passing. This story is beautifully written-with the power of your words, I felt like the Kindergarten teacher receiving the necklace. I didn't notice until after I read “…and left the room.”, that I'd been holding my breath. “Celebrating” with my writing is on my list of to-dos this year and yours is the first I've read this year. I'm sure I can't even begin to live up to this.
Ruth, you have a way of telling stories that get to the heart of the matter and makes me ponder deeply about life. In passing on the love, you honored your friend.
If there were ever a way to “master the message of radical love!” Your courage honored your friend, and opened the door to a new one. You, too, are a beacon of inspiration to many people.”
You. This. Amazing love. What a beautiful way to honor your friend and pass along more love. The world needs more of just this! Amazing love.
Best story ever. Everyone is right–this is an amazing way to honor a friend. Thank you for sharing this story. It's a great reminder…
I wait anxiously for your Saturday celebration Ruth. I always am encouraged to continue my writing along with reflecting after reading it. Today I am thankful for amazing love and power of a writing community that supports each other IT IS ALL GOOD.
Loved hearing you give your and Kim's “love” away, passing it on. That teacher will remember this and the ripples will spread.
LOVE is all we really need. Thank you for this post (as I type on my tear-filled keyboard).
Your post brought tears. This teacher so needed that love key and you needed to give it. Both hard things to accept and do. Funny how it is hard to give to someone. Perhaps it's because we fear rejection. That act was a beautiful tribute to one who “never worried about whether it was her place to love people.”
The way you live life and share your world always puts me in awe. This story gave me goosebumps as I read. This is how to make a difference in lives, one step at a time. Beautiful!
You walk the walk, Ruth. That's why your writing resonates with all of us. A beautiful story.
Your love inspires me.
Thank you, Ruth, for another story of this beautiful friendship. This shared love is inspiring me to seek to treasure friendships even more.
Such a touching story! Thank you for making a difference in another's life with something very meaningful.
The LOVE you share is I Cor. 13 love that never fails and is greater than faith and hope. Blessings!
Thank you. Thank you for sharing the good times and the bad times with us, and sharing your hope and your strength. The dark times are truly dark, but there is always light somewhere, when we're ready to find it. What a wonderful woman Kim must have been, to inspire such love. Let's all hope we can leave such an impact on the people we share the world with.
I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. Thank you for sharing about this gift. I think the act of giving isn't always easy. I'm so glad you pressed through in love. It was a blessing to the receiver, but also to all of us who were able to read about the gift.