We’re all in this play together

Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, October 13, 2009

“All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players.

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts…”

From William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Act 2

Friday I talked with a friend anxiously awaiting the arrival of a new grandchild. That same day, I sent a message to another friend preparing to say farewell to her younger brother, Richard, who died last week.

We live in a world of constant entrances and exits. That is what came into my head as I thought about my two friends and what is happening in their lives. One was waiting for an exciting entrance into her life, while the other struggled with a painful exit from hers.

And I thought about how we touch each other’s lives with our coming and going, and in the time between the two events.

A baby arrives filling the world with hope and possibility. That newness can’t help but bring joy to those who welcome the child with love. Then as the infant grows, so many lives touch along the path to becoming “grown.”

Richard was one of those people whose life touched mine as we grew up. When I think of him, I smile, remembering him standing in our living room dressed in his Cub Scout uniform, dark curly hair covering his head and a mischievous smile lighting his eyes.

He and my brothers were friends and shared the adventures of being boys growing up together. I stood on the outside, the big sister watching their shenanigans.

Thanks to Facebook, Richard came back into my life a few months ago. It was good to hear from him, to know the man the boy became. Of course, sharing messages on an Internet site is not the same as a personal face-to-face visit, so there was a lot about his grownup life I didn’t know.

In some ways that was a blessing when I heard about his passing because I only remembered the good times, the simpler, less complicated days of childhood. The Richard in my mind is a happy kid and that is how he lives in my memory.

Tuesday, I had a message from the expectant grandmother friend. Her granddaughter made her entrance into this play we call living on Monday, healthy and beautiful I’m sure. Surrounded by love as she grows, her life will weave in and out of the lives of many others.

Such different experiences for my two friends, such different emotions and yet each part of the great whole of life.

As Shakespeare understood when he lived and wrote so many years ago, we walk onto the stage and in the course of a life play many roles from a baby welcomed with love to an adult living in the world until finally we exit. But the roles we play are not as important as the love we leave behind, the lives that are better because we lived.

Thoughts of Richard make me smile and anytime there is a smile, there is joy. This new baby, no doubt, has her entire family smiling nonstop.

It is hard to accept the exits in life with the understanding that they come in their perfect time just as the entrances happen with perfection. Perhaps that is something I’ll never really grasp until I make my own exit.

But for now, I’m celebrating two lives, the new grandchild who arrived and fills my friend’s heart with such joy and Richard’s, who even though he made his exit continues to bring joy and love to his sister and to those who shared the stage with him while he dwelt among us.