I happened to see Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s memorial to Charlotte Figi, a child with a catastrophic type of epilepsy who went on to inspire a CBD movement. Ms. Figi passed from complications to Coronavirus-like symptoms.
I commented to myself about the irony of why we find the unexceptional exceptional only after passing. Why is it we never see those qualities when they are alive.
Shelly is not unlike Figi. I didn’t know her well. I don’t recall ever personally meeting her. If I did, she was too unexceptional for me to note as exceptional. I certainly don’t remember what she looked like, the color of her hair, what she wore, eyes, or the way she carried a laptop or cup of coffee. I don’t know about her life story. Neither did I understand the challenges she overcame, the obstacles tossed her way, accomplishments, nor tears.
Shelly worked in our west coast office. We interact several times each week, separated by the Central to Pacific coast time zone. Occasionally, Shelly would call during the early evening to gather advice or discuss strategies in handling a difficult manager.
I learned Shelly was a Star Trek fan, including Kirk, Spock, The Next Generation, and others. Spock would be proud; she lived the mantra, “The needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few.” Like crewmembers on the U.S.S. Enterprise, she willingly gave up many parts of her life for others.
Shelly fought for what was right. She wasn’t afraid to poke holes in the politics and beliefs of our times. There was no perfect life, where all the world would walk in peace. Even I, the great Unknown Buddhist (my sarcasm), was challenged to look at my own culture and ask what was right. And maybe in real life, Picard, Charlotte Figi, and Shelly pushed others to eliminate personal hunger, excessive want, and need. More importantly, all of us were pushed to grow out of intellectual infancy.
And like so many others, just like Figi, Shelly was attacked by Coronavirus symptoms during the early hours of this morning, Good Friday. She’s in intensive care, barely alive.
If there’s a lesson, Dr. Gupta laid bare that our world dialogue has become disorienting. Should there be a second lesson, it would be that our life can only succeed by the quality of our bonds, not by the height of our walls. We must find a bridge between otherwise irreconcilable cultures. Maybe that bridge is love.
Good Friday is about love and transformation. In remembering Ms. Figi and Shelly, I must recognize that their lives do not end this week. Instead, it begins anew. Love triumphs death. And like so many others, love continually transforms me as well.
Ms. Figi and Shelly are exceptional. I regret not making either ‘exceptional’ during my living years. I should have; we should have. In their way, each gave me a tremendous amount of unconditional love. How do I know? I call it faith. We may not understand it, yet it exists nonetheless.
It’s the same faith Christ calls us to live. It’s what Good Friday’s about.