I did a little experiment the other day. I felt depressed and I needed to brighten my day, so I challenged myself to come up with the happiest memory I could remember.
For my thought experiment, I set some parameters:
- It couldn’t be a holiday,
- It couldn’t be a vacation,
- It couldn’t be a birthday,
- And, it couldn’t include a physical gift.
Here is what I came up with: it was the summer of 1993 and I had just graduated from De Smet. I had worked all summer and now I prepared to leave for Kansas City. My brother, Dan, and I spent many days that summer playing ping pong in our basement. He and I played ping pong like our lives depended on it. He was much better than me, too. At the time, Dan was preparing for his junior year at De Smet, maybe the most difficult year in high school, and I was headed out of town.
A little about my brother: He is the hardest worker I’ve ever met; he’s had to work for everything he has, and he dedicated himself to any goal he set.
Driven is the word. He didn’t need me to pave any way for him, and he was always his own person. Even though he is younger, he pushed me to expand my comfort zone and try many new things, like encouraging me to go to Rich Grawer’s Basketball Camp at SLU, or helping me adjust at Camp Don Bosco by sitting with me while I fretted over our parents leaving, or convincing me to run with the bulls in Pamplona after a night of no sleep, or going into a poltergeist-infested crypt at midnight in Edinburgh, Scotland.
So there we were, in our cold basement at the end of the summer, bashing it out on the ping pong table when all of a sudden he put his paddle down and started to cry. He came over to me and I started to cry, and he said, “I’m really going to miss you,” and we hugged. And then he beat me at ping pong.
I don’t know if Dan remembers that day — he may after reading this reflection — but this is my gift to him. That day made me realize what a great friend he was all those years growing up. How, through every single fight we had, we were always brothers and we had each other’s backs. I don’t know where I would be without him.
During this season of thanks and giving, ask yourself: what memories do I hold dear?
Could you take the time to give that memory to the person who shared it with you? During this time of uncertainty and anxiety, when we all need moments of joy, what a gift that would be for that person.
And if De Smet Jesuit happens to be part of your cherished memories, please tell us. We love to hear these stories, and we are so grateful for the members of our school family.