I find more and more these days that when I open my mouth to speak, it’s the voice of my mother I hear. Today is one of those days.
“Where did this month go?”
“We haven’t had a proper summer yet.”
“Where does the time go?”
“It’ll soon be Christmas.”
So it seems fitting that I was invited by Tori of Toris Tales to be the final contributor on her #talesofseptember project over on Instagram. The idea behind the project is to connect people through creativity and photography to respond to a daily word prompt with your own personal interpretation and share it within the community. Those of you that may not yet have had the pleasure of discovering Toris refreshingly honest, heart-centred work and generous community spirit I recommend you lose yourself in her world for an hour or two and sign up for her regular newsletter “Tiny Tales.”
My submission to the project was “Legacy” and as is so often the case I struggle to put into words my reasoning behind it. The idea for legacy came to me towards the end of several month of stress, health concerns, mixed emotions and uncertainty. It’s difficult to condense all the different aspects of this time into a few sentences that neatly sum up what legacy means to me so I hope that by sharing a few details of my story my interpretation becomes clearer.
After losing my uncle earlier in the year in difficult circumstances it fell to me and my sister to enter his home in an attempt to retrieve family photos which had passed down to him after the death of my maternal grandparents many years ago.
It’s difficult to describe the sadness of observing the remnants of a persons life after they are gone. However respectful you are, it feels intrusive and invasive.
As prepared as we were to face the physical task in hand,the gloves which offered the slightest barrier from everything we touched. The face masks for protection against the stench of smoke and soot which settled like a veil on everything and disturbed at every step and every turn. The torches for cutting a path through the dark which had taken hold. There was no way to prepare for the sense of emptiness at the person shaped void left behind in the landscape of a life.
Even less so for the sense of loss at the fact that all we were searching for was gone. The photographs, just like those featured in them, are no more and the grief which resurfaces at the loss of these memories is as real as that which was felt, albeit long ago, for the loss of the soul.
During this time, in a somewhat apt reflection of synchronicity my sister and I await the results and all their implications of genetic cancer screening. As if the loss of a mother and grandmother to this awful disease were not enough to shift our worlds we face the possibility that we each have been left with the makings of it, the rogue defective imperfection of it, deep within the very essence of who we are.
Then only this last month one of my beloved dogs, Star has had a difficult grade 2 tumour removed. What seemingly appeared to be a tiny, inconspicuous lump turned out to be invasive and in need of immediate and aggressive treatment from which she is thankfully now recovering well. Its been gut wrenching to watch her struggle through what was a difficult healing.
I’ve been hit hard by having to repress what can only be described as my motherly instinct towards her when others relate to her as an “it” and fail to see her as a member of our family in the same way we do. There is however so much to learn from observing her, physically and spiritually as she returns to her loving, playful, carefree self blissfully oblivious to the uncertainty of her prognosis. Or perhaps she’s acutely aware of the impermanence of this life and so chooses to fill it with as many walks and naps and belly rubs as possible.
Moving on slowly, as we must, there is so much to be gained from these experiences. I believe more and more we can each choose to look for the positive and strive to make something good from all that we’ve learned. Try to do better, be better, live better, love better. To seek out happiness, to pursue it, to attain it, to revel in it each and every day we have before us. To accept that in life there will always be struggle and obligation and loss and uncertainty but that it’s up to us to find the little and the not so little things in between that spark joy. To surround ourselves with people who know and love us down to our very souls and to release the ones that don’t with blessings and forgiveness. To immerse ourselves in adventures we may only ever take in our minds. To take chances and start stories and set in motion things we may never see through to the end.
To live a life, to define a legacy of words and deeds and memories, before the time comes to let go of all attachments and set it free.
These states describe but not define my sense of self.
We are each responsible for that which we leave behind.
We each have a responsibility to learn from what went before.
The words, the deeds, the seeds of our soul.
We leave them behind every minute of every day.
Like footprints, shadows and echoes.
Tend to your legacy every day, all to soon it will belong to another.”