What would you like to leave behind?
“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies . . . Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die . . . It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away.”
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
One night, with the lamps casting a soft glow upon our faces, my sons and I discussed how interesting it was that they were both creative souls.
It was a casual, intimate and very low key conversation, much like many others we have shared over the years. I have zero artistic capabilities and have always been a bit confused as to how they both ended up so talented in their own ways.
My older son is the conventional artist (as if there was such a thing)! He paints and draws and constructs sculpture and ceramic and wood and anything he can get his hands on to create amazing pieces that baffle me at times. He is also self taught with the guitar and plays beautiful melodies and sings in such a soft comforting voice for such a big strong man.
My quiet, younger son is a film maker and also writes screenplays. He recently decided to he was going to learn to play the ukulele as he loves the sound they make. In the last year, he has taken a few improv classes and has also ventured into stand up comedy during the evenings. He did this, he tells me, because it was his greatest fear, and now that he has overcome it, he has nothing else to fear for now. I mean, really….at 26.
The conversation turned to what we felt would be our ultimate marks we left behind after we are gone from this earth. I told them both that they were so very fortunate in that their artwork and films will forever be there, and that they are already leaving pieces of their identities in this world that will live on long after they leave. And all this while still in their twenties!
One of them asked me what I thought I would leave behind and I didn’t have to think hard.
I smiled at them both and softly said, ” you are both my art; my finest work.”
As males will, they scoffed and said that I didn’t answer the question right and it wasn’t “fair” for me to answer the question using them as the answer. They wanted something that was more me or mine or that I alone had created or caused to happen.
I humoured them at the time, and said they couldn’t change the rules halfway through or make up new rules after I had answered and I went to the kitchen and started puttering around making us all a snack, while the sound of their voices told me they were already off on another discussion, and I was out of the woods as far as providing them with anything else.
As I have mentioned before on this blog, I truly believe that our energies are constantly mingling. Sometimes the most seemingly insignificant contact, will cause ripples we are not even aware of until years later, when we will suddenly smile when we see something that reminds us of that person, or feel our eyes filling with tears from our interaction with another.
I know I have left many bits of myself behind in the people I have met along my journey.
I have left tears on the gravestones of my father and my son in a city far away.
I abandoned fragments of my heart in one of the hospitals where I live now, when I said goodbye to my mother and then my brother, seven years later.
The same hospital where I was reborn and renewed myself; so much of me was shared there with my fellow patients and caring nurses.
The men I have loved and been loved by; they will always carry me with them, the love I gave and the love I took from them. I know my energy is still thick around them and that they would never wish to be free of me- not even for a day.
My dear hospice souls that I was with during my time working. I left so much with them and for them. They deserved so much of me for their strength, courage and dignity. Their families that I held following their passing. Their teenagers that I helped with their math homework, while their mother was enduring dressing changes. The nursing staff that would huddle in the med room, wiping their own and my tears away, as we all shared our light with each other. That hospice is a virtual Niagara of combined legacies!
My nieces and nephews and friends’ children and the motherless children I have influenced or counselled or loved over the years. I can SEE me in them and their choices and the ways they raise their own children now.
All of my friends who have laughed at my silly ass; I’m all over them!
Co-workers, so many of them; every time I mimicked our boss, or covered their work so they could run to grab a sick “little” at the daycare or babysitter’s place. I’ve left quite a bundle with them, too.
Even those I have angered or hurt, many times not even having been cognizant of the fact I had done it, they received some of me, too, for better or worse.
So, even though my sons are and will always be my greatest legacy of my life, I have left legacies throughout my life and in far too many places to even begin to list them.
I know I have made my mark.