Legacies

A little over a month ago, a girl that I knew in high school passed away. I was pretty good friends with her step sister, and even though we’ve all lost touch over the years, I still frequently feel  like those years when we were friends happened just yesterday.

The entire situation has brought up a lot of thoughts and feelings for me. I’ve watched a number of people lose loved ones, friends, and family over the past few years. I’ve been very fortunate in my own life when it comes to this type of loss; I still have my 98, almost 99, year-old great grandmother.

Whenever someone passes away, it makes me re-consider mortality: both mine and my loved ones’. (From what I hear, this is common for a lot of people.) The big question for me lately has been about what really matters in life. If I were to die, what would I leave behind? What would be my legacy?

For this girl who recently passed, her legacy has been her smile and her love. Everyone who loved her or even just met her in passing remembers those things. And, in my opinion, that shows you who she really was. Her legacy is love and joy.

If I were suddenly taken away, I wonder what people would remember about me. I also have to ask myself this: what would I want people to remember? What would I want to leave behind as my most important contribution to the world? And will I have made my time here worthwhile?

I wrote in an earlier post about how my weight does not determine my worth. I have never felt this to be truer than when it comes to answering these questions.

When I am gone, I hope that nobody will remember my weight. I hope that it will not be the most important thing about me; it will not be the most important thing that I do here.

At the end of the day, who really cares about the number on the scale? At the end of it all, what does that really matter?

Yes, I want to lose weight and be healthy. Yes, it matters to me that I accomplish this goal that I’ve set for myself. But it only matters while I am here; it will not matter at all when I am gone. I believe that who I am and my worth as a person will ultimately be determined by what I leave behind.

I can leave behind bitterness, anger, and resentment. I can leave behind a negative outlook, a fear of doing anything memorable, and a memory of “that girl who always stayed back while others went forward.” I can leave behind darkness, selfishness, and chronic misery.

Or I can leave behind honesty, integrity, and love. I can leave behind, like my great grandmother will someday, a legacy of always standing up for what is right and standing up to defend and love my neighbor no matter who that neighbor might be. I can leave behind an attitude of forgiveness and strength through that forgiveness. I can leave behind joy!

I can leave behind love or I can leave behind hate; I choose love.

Because, in the end, that’s really what it all will come down to. Did I love myself, my neighbor, and even the people who hurt me?

Or did I spend my life hating myself and everyone who ever offended me or hurt me? Did I spend my life focusing only on me and not bothering to pay attention to the lives of those around me?

Isn’t that, ultimately, what determines my worth?

I believe so.

In the end, I believe that love is the only thing that matters. Whether it’s love that I show to myself and others or love that I refuse to give to anyone (including myself) is up to me.

——

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