One day, several years ago, my father asked me, “Why do you want to be a writer?”
“Immortality” I answered.
I think this is common for artists. Since accepting the challenge to write and share about Legacy, I’ve seen it sprinkled in many songs and art references. Pretty much the entire musical of Hamilton is obsessed with the theme of legacy.
Early in 2018, the lead singer of The Cranberries, Dolores O’Riordan, died at 46. Forty-Six. Too young. She touched many lives in her short life and her work will live on. This song, “When You’re Gone” begins with the line, “Hold on to love, that is what I do…”
This was originally posted in 2018, I’m sharing again today because my FTSF peeps have asked, “How would you like to be remembered?” And, well, I think this sums it all up…and maybe more.
How Will History View Us
I hope against hope that after I am gone, I may yet reach and touch the lives of those living.
The fact is, my writings and my family may prove to be an anthropological study. A study of a certain kind, or kinds, of people that eventually will not even be allowed to exist.
Will history show me as a foolish, disillusioned human, blinded by emotion instead of practicalities? Or will history remember us as a family who loved each other, and lived as an example that sometimes we must do what is right, even if we cannot win. That the answer is, in fact, love.
Will we be remembered as those who listened to teachers of all sorts? Can the future learn to listen to the wisdom of the marginalized?Will history remember us as a family who loved each other, and lived as an example that sometimes we must do what is right, even if we cannot win? What will be our legacy? Click To Tweet
The Love of Strangers
I have been to quite a few funerals for people that I barely knew or never even met. These are the funerals of parents, siblings, or children of friends or colleagues. I attend these services to signal my support and respect.
One thing I’ve noticed is the distinctive energy and movement of love, and how it varies from one circumstance to the next.
Sometimes, even I, a relative stranger, feel a tangible blanket of love, the weight of his or her legacy, over the proceedings. It surrounds us during the stories of giving, of teaching, and of laughter. Like the mother who lived in faith and thus her children (and their children) practically lifted the funeral home with their celebration and appreciation of her life. Or the father (and grandfather) who was full of ideas and never afraid of work. He gave these gifts to his children and the room teemed with his legacy of love and provision. In these, the love lingered and showered upon all of us in the room, even upon strangers like me. It is a sensory reaction to a life well lived.
There are other kinds of funerals, when a life is cut short. A tragic or unexpected loss. Particularly when parents lose a child…of any age. When parents mourn, the love in the room comes from the living. Sometimes that love feels desperate; it feels pushed, shoved, yelled, cried, and sent outward…to somewhere we cannot reach.
The love pours from us and into the universe. The love might even feel torn from us, flies into the darkness, or maybe lightness, in a desperate attempt to meet, to hold on to, the one who’s gone.
I’ve felt this at funerals of babes and young children. Families feel a sense of despair for the potential, for the years they will never have together.
This is true of adult children, too. Adult children lost to cancer, sickness, or accident. To suicide. Or stolen from us by another, murdered.
In those moments, we, the community, wanted to surround the parents with our love, blanket them with the warmth of the living. But it doesn’t settle. We hoped when we walked in the door and signed the guestbook we never wanted to exist, that our love could lessen this burden. Instead, the love pulls forth from us all and goes into a void that we are desperately trying to fill together.
But, at that moment, it feels that void can never be full again.
Over time, we speak of the loss, we speak his name to confirm his legacy. We speak her name, to show we have not forgotten. We learn to continue pouring our love out, to honoring the living by acknowledging the pain of the loss.
Eventually, I’ve felt the love sprinkle and reciprocate from memories shared and the spirit lifted. In time. In each one’s own time.
Those Before Us
Love is everythingLove is all aroundLove is not hopelessLove is passionLove will not stopLove is an ocean– Melissa Riggio
Tell Your Story
“Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?” Asks Hamilton.
It is important that Marcus has and takes the chance to tell his own story. This chance feels new to his generation, with the support and technologies available.
He’s made an impact on people who were strangers to realizing and believing in the potential of a person with Down syndrome. Already, the times I’ve heard, “I had no idea that someone with Down syndrome could write a book,” means that Marcus has and is making a change to the communal consciousness. He is creating a legacy of possibility, and he’s not done.
Marcus has grown into forming his own legacy, and he makes me very proud. His story is in print and on the minds of people in our community. He’s telling his own story. (like when we spoke to #MyVoiceMyCommunity at the United Nations.)Marcus is creating a legacy of possibility Click To Tweet
Legacy of Love
I can’t help but wonder, at each funeral, what will be said of my life? How will I be remembered? What will I have left this world?
Legacy is a big deal to me, maybe that means I’m vain. I strive toward a legacy that speaks of teaching, of creating, of kindness…that is what I hope endures.
I know our time is short, so I push and pull and run like the little hamster in the ball that is life. Inching toward the hope of a long-term impact. So much work to be done, words written, love shared, lives touched, and maybe even minds opened. That’s all.
If you’d like to hear about with Marcus and our adventures, not too often I promise, join the club here! You can read more about “The Ring and Stories Around It” here. Check out more about Marcus’ book, Black Day: The Monster Rock Band here.
This blog was orginally posted as part of the Love Blog Challenge hosted by Bella Brita in February of 2018.
Today you can join in with Kristi and friends and tell us, How would you like to be remembered?
What a beautiful post on love and the impact of people who love fiercely. <3
Mardra- I always love your “stuff” and Marcus in the extra frosting on the cupcake! Your blog reminds me of a song I love that says “May all who come behind us find us faithful.” I think that is truly the legacy we should all want. To know that regardless of the number of hours we spent on this planet, that we were faithful to whatever our calling might be. Thanks for being you.
Oh, Thank you Jawanda. Yes, I would be satisfied with that epitaph. <3 to you all, too!
I’m so glad you shared this one – it’s lovely and love and legacy. You will be remembered for speaking out with love for sure and advocacy for sure. I know it. You and Marcus are amazing and are truly changing the world!!
Your description of a child’s funeral is spot-on. Tucker’s friend died a year ago this summer and it was the most excruciating funeral we’ve been to. But also beautiful. The kids wrote down notes to him on paper then put the paper in water where it dissolved (a special kind of paper I guess) and then watered a butterfly bush with it. Gah.
Thank you and
So beautiful and such a testament to your fulfilled desires to be a writer. I am a writer and a photographer for the same reason. Otherwise I’d be a hoarder – hoarding every bit of everything in fear it will all disappear one day.
I loved the Cranberries. I talk to my kids about them and how I was on the way to a concert and my car died and I always thought I’d have time to see them live.
I never saw Tom Petty either. 🙁
Thank you Tamara, we are hoarders in our own way, aren’t we? Words and pictures and emotions and on…
I know what you mean about thinking there’s time, on the other hand, I begged my parents to let me see ZZ Top while I was in high school because, “THey’re Olllld, how much longer will I have a chance to see them?!” They didn’t let me and I saw them 20 years later. Good times. 🙂
“I had no idea that someone with Down syndrome could write a book” is a telling comment about our society Thankfully, Marcus is there and willing to make changes to the way we think. What is equally lovely is that there were other people in Marcus’ life who believed he could write a book. I don’t think that is always the case.
Your legacy, both through Marcus and through your words, will be felt in ways you may never imagine.
God’s peace, dear friend… xoxox
I loved this just as much this time as when you originally posted it. Thank you for bringing it to light again with this week’s FTSF topic. I’m so glad to have read it again. Also, I think the desire to have a legacy isn’t vain… I think it’s more that a legacy means that the hampster-wheel work matters, you know?