Lately I’ve been worried about what I will leave behind in life. I’m not planning on going anywhere, but it seems like a lot of other people are.. and I can’t help but think about what gets stuck here when we all go.
What memories are left
What impact did we have
Will people miss our actions
I don’t mean will people mourn. I think anyone can do that. I mourn the loss of people I’ve never met before.
ie: reading my newsfeed when it is chock full of obituaries and gofundme links.
I want to know what happens when the grief and shock have past. Is there something lingering around that still makes the world know you were here? Something that’s not a memorial, or work of art, or an awkward shrine on a living room wall.
The only death I’ve ever known that really hurt was the loss of my friend Stephen. I didn’t know Stephen for long, but I knew him long enough to be impacted by his creativity, free spirit, love for yahoos, and his ability to find just the right amount of risk and rebellion in life. Stephen made people think. He made you question everything you once had total faith in. Sometimes to a fault. Many times in conversation, I wanted to sprint back to the easier, picturesque world Stephen had just made my mind leave for good.. but I was too entranced with his take on the world.
Six years later, I still find myself thanking Stephen for opening my mind.
He left that behind.
It was hard to see Stephen go because I felt like he had so much left to do. I thought more of the world needed to know him – they needed to have him impact their lives like he impacted mine.
I wish Stephen was still here fulfilling all of his passions in life, but I think of what he left behind a little differently now. I don’t think about what he could have done anymore. I think about what he did.
And I guess that’s the reason for this post.
I have a horrible habit of reading and stalking all devastating drama on Facebook, CNN, and where ever else it seems to pop up. That habit has shown a seemingly formulaic layout to how reaction and mourning to death goes. For example, there are usually comments of friends and family sending love and prayers, comments of how great the individual was, pictures of memories, long prose form statuses filled with regret, and so on… but one in particular really gets to me.
“They had so much left to offer the world.”
This one haunts me. I know it’s probably true in all accounts of life. We all have more to give, more to see, more people to love, more coffee to drink, etc. Still, I hope no matter how old or young I am when I go, no one thinks I should have done more.
I hope no one thinks I didn’t fulfill the life I had.
I want my day to day interactions with people, art and writing to be enough. And when the inevitable happens, I hope people celebrate the life lived instead of mourning the unlived. After all, isn’t that what living is about. It’s the dying and the uncertainty that makes the act of living so beautiful.
One thought on “What We Leave Behind”
Beautiful post. It may well be resonating right now because of personal thoughts in my head, but just the same. I think it comes down to an understanding that we want our lives defined by what we, perhaps, have done and who we are…rather than what could have been. People forget to live in the now and see it clearly. We, all of us, live so much in the future that we forget who we and others are right now…..and how truly great right now is. Granted, I’m guilty of that as well. Might need a daily reminder… 🙂
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