On my way to meet a friend to see a movie on Tuesday night, I stopped at a red light and glanced at the Nebraska license plate on the car in front of me. It listed two years on the bottom (1867 and 2017) in celebration of Nebraska’s sesquicentennial anniversary.
I don’t know why this particular set of plates prompted such thoughts — especially since I have the same plates on my car — but seeing those dates on this particular occasion caused me to realize I won’t be here for the state’s bicentennial anniversary celebration. Life is but a mist, the Bible says. As such, it’s worth paying attention to milestones.
Birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, retirements, reunions—they all mean something. They mean we’ve made it another year, worked through difficult times, earned a new position, worked as long as we needed to, or chosen to gather with old school friends to remember how things used to be.
We tend not to remember ordinary days — the days when we worked all day, came home, ate dinner, watched a little TV, read a chapter or two, then fell asleep.
As the car in front of me turned left, I couldn’t help but think we need to remember more milestones — even the hard ones. More importantly, maybe we should look for reasons to celebrate other people’s milestones.
A friend and his wife once took me out to dinner to celebrate a financial milestone in my life. The fact that they cared enough to do so has stuck with me.
Many years ago, a friend bought a refrigerator magnet for me, saying it was for my new apartment. I still have it (the magnet, not the apartment), even though I’ve moved twice since then.
Knowing how much these gestures have meant to me, I try to do the same thing for others. I’m not always great about sending cards, but I do try to acknowledge events that mean something to the people I do life with.
I have a friend who had a cat named Kramer. Kramer died on May 5 one year after a short battle with an illness. I put that date on my calendar and try to text my friend every year to say I remember.
Kramer was a giant cat with a gentle spirit. And while I can’t say it with any certainty, I suspect my friend chose the mild-mannered Kramer due, in part, in response to a previous cat he owned named Cringer the Battlecat. Battlecat should tell you everything you need to know.
I hated to see Kramer go. But maybe talking about him every once in a while means something to my friend.
My calendar now contains numerous other milestones of family and friends.
A couple I used to live next door to lost their adult son to suicide in 2008. That anniversary date is coming up next week and I plan to call them to tell them I remember.
November 10 is a friend’s spiritual birthday. I try to text him every year on that date. It’s a good way to catch up if we haven’t spoken for a while.
And I’m at the age when many of my friends have already lost one or both parents, so those dates are on my calendar, too.
The first definition of the word “milestone” is “stone post at [the] side of a road to show distances.” As humans, we need to acknowledge the distances that the people around us have traveled. Yes, we mostly travel our journeys alone, but when someone cheers us as we cross a finish line, it makes a difference.