June 1, 2009

I went back to Illinois this past weekend to attend a celebration of life service for a former theatre lighting teacher, turned friend, Shelley, who recently passed away. Held on a theatre stage, with her beloved dog in attendance and a slideshow of photos from pieces of her life, it truly was an honor to her memory. As I sat there listening to everyone who spoke about her I thought a lot about the legacy one leaves after they are gone.

We all come into this world and from breath number one we have a legacy handed to us. Our parents instill their dreams of parenting a future doctor, lawyer or mother or wish for us to take on the family business. As we grow, a societal legacy is born. The one that tells us to earn a certain monetary amount, to stay within an unattainable weight range and to partner up in order to be societally accepted.

We spend a lot of time fighting these forced legacies and thinking that we don’t measure up or fit into this life, but in death, none of those legacies mattered. People spoke of remembering Shelley’s spirit, her sometimes strict teaching methods that now go on through her students as they now teach others and her incredible love for animals. The University dedicated a room in the building where she worked and instituted a scholarship in her name. Those will be her legacies. A life lived, not a life dreamed.

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