Today I drove past a cemetery.
Beautiful headstones and memorial markers, laid out in pleasing rows and columns.
Trees and benches, flowers and flags.
A place marking memories.
And it caused me to recall the statement by Anne Frank: “Dead people receive more flowers than the living ones because regret is stronger than gratitude.”
It caused a mix of thoughts and ideas to pour through my brain.
Questions such as “what am I leaving behind when I go?”
Having had the life experiences that I have, I realize how quickly life can end.
I’ll admit that at 38 years old, I’d like to think that I easily have 40 or 50 years ahead of me yet. I’d like to believe that, in that time, I will do and see many things. I will continue to experience and explore on my own terms.
I’ve also considered what I want to leave behind as my legacy.
Not having a family has caused me to think of and consider how I will make a dent in this world and into the future, without passing down items to children who will cherish the memories.
The other evening, I was also thinking about my grandparents and how I wished so desperately that I could hear some of their stories of their lives again.
I had thought earlier of how I can get my mother to record some of the stories of her life and to recount some of the stories of her parents. We had cleaned out a piece of the family property and my mother -bless her hoarder heart- wanted to keep almost EVERYTHING that was in remotely decent condition. I finally talked her into taking pictures and telling stories instead (we don’t have room to store it all! It’s impossible!!!).
We haven’t started that project yet. We probably should get a start on that soon…
What can we leave, other than money or property? What can we leave other than pictures and memories?
I know that it’s not something anyone EVER wants to think about. Ever.
Not only have I helped families make decisions after death, I’ve helped many many families prepare for the inevitable…something that they don’t only want to think can happen to their family, but something that we would all like to believe we’re too lucky to avoid until we’ve lived a full life and are aged.
Do I know what I want to leave behind?
Is “a better world” to cliché? I feel like it might be…
But that’s simply it. Simply I want to leave this world better than I open my eyes to every morning. Every day.
It’s not an easy thing to work forward towards, at all.
I’m absolutely not a saint. Not even in the running for sainthood! …mostly because I’m not catholic. But that’s of little consequence – the catholic thing.
I can’t even imagine what people thing of my beliefs, really. Okay, honestly I don’t care what people think or don’t think. I’m not normal, though.
I can’t imagine how incredibly hard people have to work to actually accomplish ANYTHING that positively benefits this world. I’m exhausted every single day, far too early…and I don’t accomplish much at all. This isn’t working in my favor.
So the question to myself is simple to ask: How do I determine if what I’ve done has made an impact?
Simple to ask? Yes. Simple to answer? Hell No.
Cemeteries are memorials. We spend a lot of money memorializing people…and not enough time with their memories.
We should probably fix that…
And maybe we should spend more time with the flowers -and people- while they’re alive. Just a thought.