As I was writing and recording a tribute to a mentor who passed away suddenly this year, a thought crept from the stores of my head through my tips of my fingers.
Loss opens a door to legacy.
As I have lost much this year, the door to thinking about, reflecting on, and savoring legacy has been forced wide open. These everyday days, that door cannot be willed to close. It is a season intense with remembering and recording legacy.
In the full, exhausting, foggy days of preparing for my mom’s memorial service, it was all about her legacy.
Recalling it. Honoring it. Designing around it. Recording it. Sharing it.
I am proud of the remembrance her community rallied to create for her. Friends and family—unexpected—appeared to help, support, and honor. They gathered words and photos and flowers and reflections and gratitude, from near and far. And we cast her legacy in stone.
Service. Presence. Hard work. Humility. Love.
In the weeks of decompression that have followed, I have wondered, what about legacy before loss? What if we hold up and honor the legacy that is being built in the people around us? What if I appreciate the legacy they are painting now?
It’s not perfect. But no legacy really is. In fact, the imperfections make the legacy all the more real, poignant, and impactful.
Can I, before there is loss, open the door—or at least the window—to the legacy being created by the community around me?
Husband. A deep connector, communicator, and lover of imagination. That I might connect authentically with him, receive his words, and join in the fun.
Dad. A brilliant strategist, a hard worker, and generous giver. That I might seek his wisdom, follow in his labor, and offer even a fragment of what he does.
Sisters. Organized and disciplined lovers of people. That I might learn from their processes and bring others into the fold of my community.
That I might do these things now. To open the doors to legacy before there is loss. Appreciate, call on, savor the legacy they are building now.
My mom was one who lived more than she spoke.
She didn’t talk about service, she just served. She didn’t talk about love, she just loved. She didn’t talk about individualizing, she just set every detail into place.
We followed, not because of a soap box, but because she walked. An authentic living-out.
A couple weeks ago, as I was strapping the bicycle helmet on a resistant 2 year old, I was impressing, communicating, speaking the right words. Helmets are essential. They will protect your head if we get in an accident. If the trailer slips off a curb or a car doesn’t see us, the helmet will protect you from getting really hurt. It could save your life.
Then, just as easily as the words flowed, I hopped on the bicycle and started pedaling. And from the trailer behind me, I hear, “Mama, where is your helmet?”
If I expect them to make wise decisions, they need to see wise decisions. If I expect them to be kind and generous (buzz words in our house), they need to see kindness and generosity.
Legacy has legs, not lips.
If I want them to wear a helmet without resistance, when it is their decision to make, even just a few years from now…well…I bought a helmet.
The thought of legacy has a scope that spans lifetimes. It feels overwhelming and weighty. So much responsibility. So much failure.
But really, I am learning, it can be about the little things.
About the daily moments of vulnerability and authenticity, lived over and over again. The little things, even when I miss the mark, create the weighty things.
Loss opens the door to the poignant air of legacy. It forces the doors open to remember.
Today, before loss—because it is sure to come—may legacy live with the breath of life, in myself and the community around me. May I see it, act on it, and say so.