Written by Tiane Davis
Growing up, my dad always told my brothers and me to make sure to go to weddings and funerals — even if we don’t know the people there that well. He never explained why, but he didn’t need to give a reason — weddings and funerals are two of the most important events in a person’s life.
Within the past month, I went to one of each. Although one was filled with joy, and one was filled with grief, both weekends rang strong overtones of love and togetherness.
One important detail was that neither of those events were about me in any way.
I can easily remember the things that are about me — my high school graduation, my best cross-country races, my favorite birthdays. I could probably recall all of my biggest moments with annoying detail, because it’s easy to hold memories that are mainly about us.
Yet, I regret to admit I don’t always remember a best friend’s first day at a job or a sibling’s move to a different state or a cousin’s engagement party.
But two weeks ago, as I watched one of my best friends walk down the aisle in her perfect white dress, I knew I wanted to remember her cute blue heels and the expression on her fiance’s face when he got a first look. I wanted to remember how pretty her eyes looked when she smiled back at him. I wanted to remember the laughs I heard at the reception afterwards. Not so I could feel good about myself for being a “good friend,” but so that I can tell her a year or 20 years from now: “Remember your wedding day? That was a great day.”
I wanted to remember one of her greatest moments because I care about her.
I clearly remember a lot of terrible moments in my life too. They were big. I won’t pain anyone by recounting them, but I definitely remember them. I also remember how meaningful it was to have someone there with me or not there with me. I remember when the people near me were patient with me and reminded me I was still good. We remember a lot of our worst moments, no matter how much we try to forget them.
And when I was sitting in the back of my cousin’s car on the way to his grandmother’s funeral a week after my friend’s wedding, I knew he would remember it.Ten years from now, he might not remember me specifically going with him, but he will remember if he felt loved or not.
A lot of people prefer to be alone for some of their big moments, but that is almost never an invitation for us to stop caring about them. When I am by myself feeling happy or sad, I might prefer to feel those feelings in solitude, but I always appreciate the thought that someone out there would gladly answer the phone if I called.
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard something similar to, “Be there for the people you love,” but what does that mean, really? Be where? What if the person you love needs to be alone?
Make all of their moments your moments. I think that is what it really means. Not in a selfish, “This needs to be about me,” type of way, but in a “I’m with you” and “You are a big part of my life” type of way.
Remember what it feels like to care about the people you love, and remind them how much you care a year or 20 years from now. Not necessarily because you want the same in return, but because you love the people you experience the important moments with. We do these things for love, and no part of that should be selfish.
A big moment for someone else will often be a smaller moment for you, but it does not have to be. The big moments for the people you love can be the big moments for you too.