Death. It will come to each of us; this is an indisputable truth. The recent deaths of Aretha Franklin and Sen. John McCain are the inspiration for this week’s column. As I watched and listened to the memorials and eulogies, the rich legacy they leave behind is apparent. Their lives were not defined by their material possessions and earthly riches. They were humanitarians and public servants who served their community and country. They assisted the needy, uplifted the broken, and used their platforms to advocate and change the world. Bearing witness to the testimonials, I was both inspired and further challenged to live my best life.
Death is not my greatest fear. Honestly, I don’t fear death at all. It may be uncomfortable not knowing how and when death will come to me, however, my fear is of failure to live authentically. I have realistic conversations about life and death. I have envisioned my service, the memories, and the legacy I will leave behind. What will people say about me? Did I do enough? Have I lived and loved well? Will the remnants of my earthly life burn bright or will my flame extinguish with my departure? These are the questions that the subject of death causes me to ponder.
To breathe is to exist, yet living requires much more. It requires purpose, intensity, determination, perseverance, love, faith, sacrifice and service. These admirable characteristics are what I strive to represent. For days I have comforted my spirit with the soothing music of Aretha Franklin. She used her voice in song, and she used it as a call to action for many societal ills. Having had the privilege of hearing McCain’s speeches, and learning about his views, his pleas for unity, and his service to his country I know that he used his life for the greater good of humanity.
We may never attain the status of “public figure,” yet, the description of humanitarian is within our reach. We each have a vital role in making our world a more peaceful, beautiful, and kinder place. It is my wish that future generations will emulate our behavior and that our lives will become the blueprint for agape, authenticity, tolerance, and empathy. A life well lived heartens us to take inventory of ourselves and examine all that we are sending out into the universe. It summons us to attend to the echoes that reverberate in our minds. The inner voice that applauds when we genuinely share our gifts and the same inner voice that admonishes when we fall short of what we have been designed to do.
In closing, this week’s article is to recapitulate that our existence has meaning. We were created with intent, not for personal gain, but for a greater good. How will you be remembered? What will you leave behind? I hope that when all is said and done, I leave more smiles than tears, more joy than pain, and a love that endures. These are the things I hope to leave behind. Let my life speak for me. Amen.
“Forever and ever you’ll stay in my heart
And I will love you,
Forever and ever we never will part
Oh, how I love you.” ( “I Say A Little Prayer For You” –Aretha Franklin)
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