Need Food for Thought? Chew on this!

* "Chew on This: Fifty-Two Inspirational Points to Ponder" is a book of inspirational short stories by Gary Brock and Kelly Tuck, and is available for purchase here!

*Words of wisdom for inspirational thought are at the end of the story!


As soon as I pulled into the funeral home parking lot, I knew I would be there awhile. After circling the parking lot twice, I finally pulled into a parking space and found myself wondering if I should just sign the guest book to avoid the long receiving line. Pushing my normal impatience aside, I decided to get in line, and if it turned out to be too long a wait, I would sign the guest book and then send a card to the family expressing my personal sympathy. Blowing out a long sigh, I headed into the funeral home. I’d a feeling during my drive over it would be a large turnout. That always seemed to be the case for an unexpected death.

As I joined the somber line, I thought back to when I first met Shontae. She was such an inspiration and delight to work with. She always seemed to have a good word, a compliment, some sunshine to spread on a cloudy day, and rainbow to share on a rainy day. There was a wonderful glow that radiated from her to brighten everything around her. I distinctly remembered her telling a discouraged coworker one day, “Breathe in I can and breathe out I can’t. Keep breathing in those I can’s until there is no room for any doubt.”

I was thankful the line was moving at a reasonable pace as I really did want to express my sympathies to her family. The hallway leading to the family area and casket was lined with happy pictures of Shontae through the years. The pictures were so true to her natural uplifting encouragement and sunny personality. Although it was probably not intended when the pictures were selected, they definitely tugged on our heartstrings as many struggled to contain their grief.

While standing in line, I could hear the endearing sentiments for Shontae. Over and over I heard family, friends, and co-workers say how some small expression of encouragement or kindness from Shontae had lifted their day and helped them through difficult times. Sadly, many of the remembrances ended with regret. I couldn’t count how often I heard, “I never got to tell her thank you.” The same heartfelt regret was expressed to the family as those who spoke it shared their condolences.

After speaking to Shontae’s devastated family I slowly headed back to my car, pondering over the wonderful young lady who would never know just how many people she had helped simply by being herself. The more I reflected on Shontae, the more I thought of that small phrase that means so much more than people realize. Thank you, gracias, merci, spasiba, or xiexie. Although the phrase was spoken differently in different cultures and languages, the meaning was the same.

It has been said, “Who knows this morning what will happen this afternoon.” That saying told me right then and there that we should never wait to say thank you since it was an expression of appreciation and gratitude. Shontae taught each and every one of us that had the pleasure of knowing her that…

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*Chew On This: Fifty-Two Inspirational Points to Ponder is available for purchase here!

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