People die. I know that the only way that I’ll be able to avoid it is if I am still on the earth for the rapture. Since no one really knows when that’s going to happen, there’s not anyway to plan to avoid death.
When I was 13, I wanted to live to be 117 years old. It seemed like a reasonable number given longevity in my genetics and medical advancements. I figured that it was the only way I’d be able to accomplish everything that I want to do on this earth before I’m gone. I’m not sure that’s what I want anymore.
The longer you live, you inevitably experience more pain and loss. While I know logically that the bitter helps me to appreciate the sweet, it doesn’t take the sting or pain away from the loss or the crummy parts of life. Because, sometimes life is really hard.
Some days, you need to close your eyes to stop the tears, put your hand on your heart to know that it’s still beating and not broken…. even though it feels like it is.
There is a sweet lady named Dorothy that I attend church with. She’s in her 90’s. She’s bright, and has a delightful sense of humor. When I envision life in my 90’s, I think of her. I complimented her on an intricately carved ivory necklace she was wearing one Sunday. Dorothy told me that her husband bought it and mailed it to her when he was serving overseas during World War II. She explained that he had died a long time ago, but she liked to wear the necklace to remember him.
Dorothy has endured the deaths of her husband, and most of her children. Yesterday, I realized that if I live to be 117, most of the people that I love will die before I do. This realization made me feel isolated.
I believe in life after death. I believe that part of what we can take with us, is our relationships, experiences and knowledge. That core belief motivates me to cultivate relationships, and learn and grow as much as possible while I’m alive. Yesterday, I learned of the sudden death of a former high school classmate. It caused me to realize how many more funerals, memorial services and deaths that I will experience if I live to be 117 years old.
When a person leaves this earth, what legacy do they leave behind?
Some men have buildings dedicated to their memories, or a child that bears their name, or companies that they have built. They spend lifetimes building wealth or cultivating a legacy.
Most people are not extraordinary.
Their names aren’t recorded in history books. They don’t achieve great fame or wealth. They live and die, and are remembered only by relatives and friends. When those relatives and friends die, how is a person’s legacy preserved? How are they remembered and honored?
Show me the manner in which a nation cares for its dead and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender mercies of its people, their respect for the laws of the land and their loyalty to high ideals.
I hope to continue to cultivate new friendships as I age. The more connected I am to others, my hope is that I will leave a greater legacy through my shared experiences with others. I long to develop greater resiliency despite the trials in my life, and the loved ones that I lose.
I want my life to be defined not by it’s length or way it ends, but how I’ve spent my collection of moments.
What will you do to preserve the legacies of your loved ones? Need ideas of where to start? Check out this post 10 ways to involve the younger generation in genealogy