Thursday, January 17, 2013

Loss, Legacy, and Bliss - In Memory of Richard Leger


Today, facing the death of a special person in my life, I borrow the word "bliss" from another friend who I also admire and consider an "old soul." While consoling me, the word "bliss" was used in association with "going to heaven" and I found it comforting. It also got me thinking.

We as humans have many attachments. Loss in our lives can be an incredibly painful life event. When faced with losing someone we love, we experience intense pain and sadness. We find it difficult to see the future without them and loss brings about feelings of ambiguity. 

While contemplating the emotions we feel when someone we loved has passed away, I began wondering if we experience such incredible sadness because we don't understand where they are going. Though we may never understand the dynamic of the universe and where we go when we die, I came to the conclusion it is more important to focus on the legacy we leave.

A legacy is defined as something we leave behind to our family, including reputation. Yes, it can be a bequest of money or property, but also a simple way of being which I consider more valuable than any material possession we could leave to those we love. When someone we love passes away, while we feel great loss, it is very important to focus on the contributions they made to the world, the good deeds, wisdom, and goodness they shared with others.

Because we all inevitably will face death, there are some important questions we should ask ourselves. Would we rather be remembered as a person who made a difference in the lives of others, or a person who only cared about our own success? Are we an individual of pure intent or do we have an agenda? Are we out to help others, or just out for ourselves? Are we contributing to make the world a better place, or are we taking up space contributing to the chaos and sadness that exists? These are just a few of the questions that should be considered.

I have had the honor to know some of the most incredible individuals in this world, those who I admire and a few I have considered mentors (they know who they are). To me, these exceptional human beings have represented integrity, compassion, and a true love for others. Their lives are a testament of the loving souls inhabiting a body for a short time on this planet. They prove those with generous spirit do exist. 

Today one of these exceptional people who touched my life passed into Bliss. We all called him Poppy and I considered him a mentor who was very grandfatherly to me. Though his passing is a great loss to this world, he lived 80 years on this planet, and for the time I knew him - he did not waste a minute. He was the person who walked into the room and made everyone smile, despite any pain he might have been experiencing. 

My heart does ache for all who loved him dearly, especially his beautiful and caring children who have all treated me as if I were born into the family. Each personify the beautiful qualities of their father. His wish was to be at home to pass into "Bliss" and all surrounded him with love during his last days.

Spending some last moments with him was important to me. I needed to thank him for the impact he made in my life, for the encouragement and moral support he shared at a time I needed it most. I shared my recent accomplishments and felt it important to credit him because of the gift of inspiration he gave to me. He was moved and in his last moments, again offered me encouragement to keep going. This was a man who wore his heart on his sleeve and never missed an opportunity to brighten another's world.

I have now come to the conclusion the "gift of inspiration" must be the most important legacy we could ever leave behind. What is better than inspiring someone else to carry on kindness? 

I write this in memory of Richard Ledger who went to be with the love of his life Mary Lu (together since they were teens and now forever in Bliss), and in honor of his very special family that I am certain will carry on his legacy of kindness.