Leave a Legacy

There’s a lot of talk these days about leaving a legacy. What does that mean? Donating millions to your alma mater or beloved charity? Leaving your kids with some money to live a little? Having a tree planted or a bronze statue placed at your favorite park for many to see?

We each individually have to answer the question “How do I live longer than my body?”

I believe living longer than my body means having people remember how I made them feel. Sure, I’d be privileged to donate millions and leave money to my kids, but my true legacy is making an impact. If even a small one at times, an impact on all the people I’ve encountered in my life. St. Teresa of Calcutta said it best “Let no one come to you without leaving better and happier.” That has been my life’s mission statement.

I first saw that quote on a calendar in my Dad’s medical office. When I was a kid I would work there in the summer. I remember thinking to myself  after I read that quote “Yeah, that’s how I want to live.” For years that meant being accommodating and not sticking up for me. As I’ve matured, that’s changed. I’m not a doormat, but I’m not aggressive. I try to be someone people can talk with about anything. I work on being compassionate and empathetic.

The crazy thing is I’ll never know if making people feel better and happier after being with me will be my legacy. I won’t be around at my funeral  to overhear what my family and friends are saying about me.

Or will I? As I move onto the other celestial place (prayerfully,) will I see all the ways I’ve made others feel? Will I feel their happiness? Their joy? Their disappointment? Their anger? Their belief in themselves? Their love? Wouldn’t that be incredible?

What if?

Let’s think about that for a moment…what if when we die we could feel the feelings of the people we’ve encountered throughout our life? Maybe it will be those feelings that lift us up from our physical body and carry our souls to heaven?

One of my dear friends got the news today that her close friend from college doesn’t have much time left. Pancreatic Cancer. When my friend told me the news, I cried on the phone right along with her. Because I too have been through the death of a close friend.

My friend, Genevieve died just 4 years ago from Mesothelioma. I was in complete denial. There was no way she wasn’t going to get better. Her adopted boys were only 7! She had beaten breast cancer and multiple miscarriages, this is just another blip. But it wasn’t meant to be. She was gone and we were all devastated. Yes, she was no longer in pain and in a better place but I wanted her here. Her family wanted her here. Her boys wanted her here. Why? Because of how she made us all feel. She was incredible. So funny. She  always made me feel good, either by a compliment or by just being hilarious. She made my life better and happier. And although she didn’t leave millions behind, she has lived and continues to live longer than her body. What a legacy!

Live Longer Than Your Body

I hope all those I encounter over my however many years on this earth will remember how I made them feel–hopefully better and happier. That is how I will live longer than my body.

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