Just Jana,  Writer

A Collector of People

“She was a collector of people.”

This phrase has come up more than once in the last few weeks, strangely. The first and most moving time was at my friend Julia’s mom’s memorial service. In her eulogy, Julia mentioned her mother was a people collector and quickly it was clear she was  one of the most loved and admired women I’ve ever (once) come in contact with. She held her collection close to her and they very obviously lifted her up as she lifted them up.

I’ve known people like this. For example, my Grannie was like this. She liked to have people around. Family, friends new and old, children of her friends, grandchildren of her friends, nieces, nephews, neighbors… her door was always open. When she died, people didn’t know what they would do without her friendship and love.

I think I’m one of these people.

I think I’m a people collector. If somebody asked me to describe my “circle of friends” I wouldn’t know where to start.

The collecting of my friends has spanned my entire life. I’ve always been one who could jump from one group to another, I think, and that’s served me well.

But sometimes it’s hard to keep track of all the people I’ve collected over the years. I want to know everything they’re doing and going through and help them through tough times. That’s hard to do, physically and emotionally. Facebook has made it easier, but you still only get glimpses.

I’m going to keep collecting those people. Friends from my childhood, high school, and college; the ones I inherited when I married; child loss sisters and brothers all over the world; my December’s Finest girls; blogging friends (too many circles to list); my cheese group (you know who you are); runner friends; people I feel like are my sisters and brothers; and honestly, those I’ve not yet met TO collect!

I only met Julia’s mom once, quickly at a brunch, but my friend Julia’s mother has shown me something through her untimely death.

One day we’re all going to die and it’s absolutely true that a life well-lived with love and grace is a life well-remembered. And if you’ve collected people on your way through that life, your life will be richer and so will theirs.