I was lucky enough to be able to attend Jacqueline Novogratz’s second women’s salon last night, featuring Sarah Murray of the Financial Times, and the recent author of Making an Exit: From the Magnificant to Macabre – How we Dignify the Dead. After a fabulous talk by Sarah on her experience and insights writing the book, all those present had a chance to share their thoughts for one minute on the following topic: In light of our mortality, what do you want your legacy to be? This was my response:
I had a dream last night with my big brother Ivan in it. He looked great, smiling, dressed sharply, and I was so happy to see him. Especially because when I have a dream with my brother in it, I am always slightly aware that it’s the only way I can see Ivan these days, and that it will be fleeting, as dreams are. He died just over six years ago, and losing him helped me understand what legacy really means.
When someone goes away, it can be such a shock to those left behind because of all that a person means to the people they know and love. I found myself unable to accept that my brother was no longer here and a part of my life, asking over and over again – where are you? I decided I would not let go or say goodbye, but would hold on to him in whatever way that I could. I realized that the thing I could hold on to and that I still continue to hold on to is his love.
So for my own legacy, I hope that what I leave behind is a powerfully felt love. I hope that through my life I can fulfill my potential, improve this world and the lives of people in it, and raise children that are healthy and fulfilled. But those are things that I think will be meaningful for meduring my life. When I am gone, I hope that what people are left with is a palpable love. I know am not as generous with love as my brother was, and that I continue to have so much to learn from him. But I hope that I have time enough on this earth
to learn how to love more freely, and to enjoy this beautiful life that I’ve been given.