In 1988 I graduated from college, the same year Peyton Strickland was born. This week his parents said goodbye to a young man who graced the earth for eighteen short years. A lot has been made about how he died (at the hands of New Hanover County Deputies), but at his memorial service I was struck instead by how he lived.
As I listened to friend after friend get up and eulogize the boy, not yet a man, I realized that we are all in the end of our lives simply a collection of our stories. Sure, we may leave behind things we own- money, houses, cars, boats. We may leave behind things we've made- art, music, and writing. And hopefully we leave legacies- our children. But in the end, it's the stories people tell about us that keep us alive.
According to people who loved him, Peyton was a mad scientist who put motors on just about anything, including his mother's mountain bike. He was an athlete who performed wild maneuvers on a skateboard. He was wise beyond his years when he told a friend: If you want to get along with girls you have to give them what they want. He was a cook who knew how to prepare a steak l at the tender age of eleven before most of us know how to boil water. I didn't know Peyton, but his stories made me feel like I did, stories I won't soon forget.
How will my family and friends remember me? What stories will they tell when I'm gone? How will you be remembered? What stories will they tell about you? I've got to get busy- I've got some stories to create...