I came across an obituary online this past week that gave me pause. In case you didn't see it, it's instructive to read. Here's an abbreviated version:
Jamie Zimmerman, who served as a doctor and reporter for the ABC News medical unit, drowned while on vacation in Hawaii. She was 31. Zimmerman was attempting to cross the Lumhai River on Kauai's north shore when she lost her footing and was swept out to sea. Zimmerman's mother, Jordan Zimmerman, confirmed her death with a message on Zimmerman's Facebook page:
"Those of you who knew Jamie or perhaps read some of her writings knew that she loved people above all else. It was her passion to be of service, and teaching meditation was her calling," Jordan Zimmerman wrote. "In her short 31 years Jamie traveled the globe representing America as a caring mindfulness ambassador. Her accomplishments included helping Congolese refugees in Zambia, volunteering in a cash-strapped hospital in India, building classrooms in Uganda, and working with indigenous people on the Amazon in Peru. Jamie served as a United Nations Global Health representative in Haiti and she even taught meditation at the U.S. Capitol.
"She was honored with UCLA's prestigious Charles E. Young Humanitarian Award, was a Rhodes Scholar finalist, and earned the title of Dr. Jamie at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. All this was in addition to her work with ABC News in their Medical Unit as well as The (Goldie) Hawn Foundation where she trained educators and school administrators to teach meditation to children."
This was a tragic death, as are so many in our world. And when we read of the loss at age 31 of someone who was doing so much for so many, we're reminded that the world needs those of us who are still here to step up and make up for some of the difference in the world that Jamie could have made had she stayed among us longer.
Of course, there's no such thing as replacing such a person who has been lost, either in the lives of those who knew her, or in the world more broadly. But there is a point worth pondering. This young woman did great good. And she would surely have done much more, had she lived a more normal lifespan. The world is in need of that good, still—all those years of all that service. And so the rest of us should be inspired, when we notice a need, or happen to think of a way we could help someone around us, to take action like Jamie Zimmerman presumably would.
She made herself available to others, and lavishly. We don't have to travel the globe to do that ourselves, in our own way, and in the time we have remaining. But wherever we are, and whatever we notice that could use our help, the world needs us to take action.