Not too long ago I began to have dreams of dying.
I know. It's crazy huh? Dreams of death? Aside from creeping me out and waking me literally every night at 3AM, I learned from my readings and seeking the advice of others that dreaming of your own death is about going through change. It's perfectly normal.
I did write this one morning early a few weeks ago, July 29th to be exact, and I thought I'd share it. It's not complete, but it's a start to how I want people to remember me when I'm gone. It's what drives me to meaning and movement in my life. We don't think about what life will be like when we are gone but we're too busy living it. But what do you want your legacy to be?
How do you want to be remembered?
Have you sat down and thought about what you would want others to say as they celebrated your life? Here goes mine. (Warning...I didn't edit this.)
We gather today to celebrate the life of a wife, mom, friend, sister, and leader. Katie was a runner. She barely achieved a sub 5 marathon, but never let the clock (a box or number) define her. She strived to run better today than she did yesterday. Katie loved everything about life. Her passion was often misunderstood. Her ideas, sometimes too grand. Her approach, sometimes too different. But Katie influenced people to think differently.
Katie's passion was people. From her husband to her amazing daughter, who shares similar passions, Katie loved engaging, experiencing, and having others in her life. She connected people and ideas to make great things happen. She was fascinated by culture and the shades of diversity and difference. She appreciated history and politics and how people either struggled or triumphed, making her work in change more fulfilling. She valued experiences and creating memories more than anything else. And boy could she throw parties!
Katie often found herself the youngest or among the unconventional in the room. A social outcast as a child, she had to learn how to find her voice. With time, she learned that the spotlight comes from within, however she did whatever she could to create light on those she loved. Katie's art was making the invisible, visible and showing others how 'different' was good. She failed plenty, but when kicked in the face, she got up, often smiling (after a good cry), adjusting her sails and setting a new course. She also taught and encouraged others to do the same. She went the distance always looking ahead and getting ahead...because for her the finish line was just another opportunity to start learning something new.
That's all I wrote. How's that for semi-consciousness at 3AM?
I have to say the process was cathartic. You think I'm crazy, and I am, but I'm telling you there's something about thinking about life after you're gone that is sobering.
So while we're on the topic of death, let's talk about the beauty of death.
This week's news of Robin Williams suicide stunned us all. Yet his finish line had an amazing way of stopping our world to pause and ask the questions about the illness he suffered from more openly. There is SO much pain going on inside of people today. We don't know it. We don't see it. We don't feel it, yet we spend a lot of time judging the people going through it, instead of trying to understand and helping it get better.
I believe we were struck with shock of his death because it's not how we would have seen him leave. It wasn't his time nor the way the story was supposed to end. It's not how we would have seen his eulogy, prepared.
Most of us don't choose when it's time to go. Sadly Robin did.
So my friends, I ask you to think about death for a moment, how is your story supposed to end? Has it started? What matters in between life and death? Are you ready to write it or are you stuck worrying about what others think and do?
How do you want to be remembered?
You must strive to find your own voice, because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all.