What we leave behind
“To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – that is to have succeeded.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The secretary of our high school class faithfully informs those remaining of the latest decline/and or demise of a classmate. The notices are frequent now and every one is a gut punch. It was a small class.
The loss of each friend excavates scenes from memory; summer afternoons, pajama parties, high school crushes, Friday night football games, Saturday night dances, first kiss, first
heartbreak..Forever memories, sealed in time.
I agree with Mr. Emerson. Hopefully we will leave the world just a little better than we found it. But interestingly, he doesn’t mention legacies. Fortunes are lost, buildings crumble. What endures is what passes from one soul to another.
It’s important to me that our children know about their family history. We tell them family stories, (or they find them on Ancestry.com), we make sure they know about family medical histories. But at least as powerful is the innate heritage I transmit; the corny family sayings that come automatically to mind, the family traditions, the recipes, that thing my mother said I vowed never to say to my kids (but yet I do); the unconscious mannerisms I inherited by nature or nurture.
But it is my day-to-day choices that determine what I will leave behind. Whether I preserve or give up through hard times, if I tell the hard truth or settle for the convenient lie, whether I confront my fears or run from them. Day by day, deed by deed, the indelible imprint of my life is formed.
And it’s never too late to remember that each moment counts. Every single one.