We didn’t really have many photos of my brother when he passed away.
After all, he was only 24 when it happened and he had always been the resident photographer. But we didn’t need photographs to remind us of the oversized impact he had had on our lives. I was only 12 but saw the devastating consequences on my family. All caused by a driver of a car, who had killed my brother and five other people, by driving drunk.
Some people live their lives quietly deflecting attention away from themselves but live with impact. They make their focus, the good works they do, the lives they touch and by making each day count for people around them.
They make our days better by just being there, lending a hand, saying a kind word and making us smile when the days are grey. These same people end up being the ones we miss the most when we lose them. So it makes me wonder if we are too busy with the everyday to realize that life’s joys consist of simple moments and experiences with people who matter. Moments and experiences with the good guys, with the sincere ones, with those who radiate warmth from their very essence.
But my point is not just that I miss my brother because he was family. I miss my brother also because he was such a kind and empathetic person. He radiated warmth and compassion. I think we don’t give enough emphasis to how important kindness and warmth are as character traits. Recently, I found out that a former co-worker, PN, had passed away. And I was shocked at how the passing of a mere co-worker had such a powerful impact on my day. But the thing is this.
This older gentleman who was several decades older than myself, saw my predicament as I re-entered full-time work in this new workplace. I was a newly single mom and my children were both not even in their teens. Yet, I had accepted a job where traveling was required. It was a tough job market and I knew I couldn’t be picky about the type of hours I kept. I wasn’t the first single mom and I wouldn’t be the last, facing challenges in the working world. There was a stigma attached to divorced women in those days, in conservative Singapore. In addition, my parents who were such an important part of my support system were struck by the news that my father had cancer.
Light in the Darkness
What this affable man did was to check up on me during the work day. Made sure I was alright dealing with one blow after another, sensing that I might have not been able to process all the challenges happening in my life all at once, while keeping a professional demeanor at work. All this happened well before I met and got serious with the love of my life, my present husband who has been my rock since. One could say that anyone could have been aware that I was struggling. But the truth was not everyone at work was aware and even fewer people really cared.
My late co-worker was one of those gems at work who did care enough to treat me both with kindness and cheer. Not only that, he treated countless people the way he did me. He embodied the essence of human empathy and consideration. My late brother was pretty much the same way. Both these men were both compassionate and warm. And they touched my life and made it better. And they impacted so many people’s lives according to their lifespans.
Many people think the most important people in their lives are the big, bold and dramatic personalities. Nothing can be further from the truth. The ones who really matter to us are the quiet doers who light up our lives with their kindness and warmth. Maybe if we praised people more for displaying these latter traits, we would live in a better world. A world filled with empathy and compassion for our our fellow man. A world of light and warmth.
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