By definition, a legacy is part of a person that lives on long after that person has passed. A legacy also leaves behind the story of a person, so they are not forgotten. Legacies are important conduits for the future that help people make better decisions within their lives.
When you lose your child, there is an inherent need to create a legacy and create it quick. This stems from the parent not wanting you to ever forget about their child. If I create this legacy quick and get people involved, they will never forget my kid. The harsh reality of this is that people do forget. People move on and people forget.
I felt the pressure very early on in my grief to create her legacy, set it in stone and run with it. As my grief has shifted and changed over the past year, so has the intent and meaning of my daughters’ legacy. This legacy creation and narrative are not to be hurried.
I am in the legacy creation process now for my 13-year-old daughter, who left this earth unexpectedly almost a year ago.
I am amazed that in just her very short thirteen years of life, she touched and reached so many people. She stood for so many things. So many wonderful things. If you knew her, you know that.
There are people who live for decades upon decades and won’t leave behind what my daughter has. So, what this comes down to is….what do I want the story to be for my daughter?
The entire world has made up a narrative about my daughter and the cause of her death. This is not a narrative that I have subscribed to and will never. Nobody was there that morning in that moment but her and I. It would take my lifetime to try to correct people on what they believe happened to my daughter. And what a waste of a life that would be.
My point in saying all of that is, I won’t default to a certain cause or influence in the creation of her legacy because of her age or what people think happened to her and how she left this earth. People remember the last thing you do. The last thing you say. And we all have had those experiences with people before they have left this earth. People rarely focus on the entire lifetime of the person but instead they drill it down to the manner in which their physical body has left this earth.
This does not and will never encompass my daughter.
My daughter’s lifetime was amazing. She was creative, she had an entrepreneurial spirit, she was warm, funny, generous, loving and demanded social justice. I have a repository of websites she and I created together of products she made over the years and sold on these websites. She designed a website wireframe on a napkin when she was eight years old sitting at the kitchen counter. She clipped her snow boots into a snowboard for the first time when she was ten. She picked up a barbell for the first time when she was eleven. She helped kids with Autism learn how to surf. She loved animals. She overcame a tremendous amount of difficulty in learning mathematics and then she mastered it. She was intentional in everything she did, and she was, by far, the most beautiful human my eyes have ever seen.
Don’t rush in the creation of your child’s legacy. Don’t feel pressure because a certain amount of time has passed. Don’t define their legacy based on how their physical body left this earth. The meaning of your child’s legacy will come to you because you are still their mother or father. You are still connected and when the time is right, you will know what to do. It will be undeniable.
What her father, her brother and I create will be forever. It will be built on a strong foundation that stands for all of her values, her intentions and all of the best of her. More importantly, it will be something that helps so many people, which to me, is her ultimate legacy.