On April 30, I said goodbye to a friend, a co-worker and a mentor. I use goodbye in a figurative sense because her passing was so quick none of us had the chance to actually tell her what she meant to us.
In the days following her death, many of my coworkers took to Facebook to offer posts, pictures and stories about how she impacted our lives. Her brother, who is also our CEO, has sent short emails to the office to let us know how much those posts have meant to his family.
I posted at one point, on the evening of her death, that I wasn't sure what was harder: that she'd died or seeing how much of a positive impact she'd had on people's lives.
It was heart-breaking but also eye-opening. I've spent most of April wallowing in despair because it was not a kind month. I grieved the loss of a pet, the loss of a child, the loss of a family member and ended the month grieving the loss of a friend and mentor.
I have the clarity bestowed upon those with hindsight to see that my pleas to fill the voids and desperation were just part of my grieving process -- I just didn't realize until a life I'd been a part of on a daily basis was ripped away.
In searching for some sort of spiritual rationalization for why friend has died, I have been scouring the internet for quotes on how life precious is. This quote seemed particularly fitting:
Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have - life itself.In all of the loss this past month, I have been able to put a finger on what my biggest fear in life is: That I won't be missed when I'm gone.
~ Walter Anderson
I think each of us hopes we've made an impact on the world. If you've not had your own children, the sadness of feeling like you won't carry on a legacy can be almost palpable.
I've been searching my soul to figure out what legacy I'd leave behind. Would I be known for my silly jokes? My crooked fingers? or something more emotional and deep, like a legacy of kindness or compassion?
As I've read through Facebook this week, both on my friend's tribute pages and my stepmom support groups, I've noticed a disconnected similarity: In life and in death, all we really want is to matter and to have made a difference.
|Walter, my new Ikean Bulldog|
Petty things don't bother me as much any longer. I don't want my legacy to be one where I was known as the bitchy wife, stepmom, sister, friend, etc. I want to be remembered for kindness, loyalty, love and compassion.
And so my actions will (continue I hope) to reflect what I hope to leave as my legacy.
As a brief aside, I want to extend a ginormous cyberhug to every single person that left me a supportive comment or an email this month. I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciated the thoughts, ideas and good spirits. xoxo.