I had a different blog post planned for today, but when as I logged onto my computer this morning, the news washed over me like a wave of cold water – Alan Rickman was dead. I had barely realized Christopher Lee was dead when David Bowie died, and now Alan Rickman. Various thoughts crossed my mind – “Someone protect Maggie Smith! Find Mark Hammill! Someone guard Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford!” But it still hasn’t really sunk in. They’re gone, and that part hasn’t really sunk in yet, but the legacies they gave us will live on. They gave us music, they gave us theater, they gave us vivid characters we will never forget. We didn’t know them personally, but they touched our lives in ways most people never will. They held dedication, passion, and creativity in their hands and they shared it with us. They gave us what we could never repay.
It made me wonder what sort of legacy I want to leave. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a George Bailey experience – to receive a visit from Clarence and be shown a world in which I never existed, to see how different it would be. To see if I’ve changed anything meaningful or done anything lasting. I think we’ve all wondered what differences we’ve made, to anyone and anything, and it’s something most of us won’t ever know.
I’ve never really cared about doing grand, sweeping things or changing the world in a massive way, but I have cared about changing people. I know what legacy I want to leave behind, and it isn’t majestic. It isn’t on par with inventing the telephone, or discovering electricity.
I just want to leave meaningful traces. I want to be a remembered as someone who loved Jesus with all her heart. I want to be remembered as a woman wise and whimsical, who read too many books (and never enough books) and who fell in love with all life had to offer but whose heart stayed in heaven. I want to be remembered as joy and deep thoughts and a sense of humor. I want to be remembered for good things, for small things. I want to leave a legacy of stories behind – stories of depth and humor and imagination. Stories that influence people the way Tolkien and Lewis and Austen and Dekker and Lawhead influenced me.
I don’t want to leave a mark on the world; I want to help heal the marks others have left on it. I forget, caught up in the day-to-day, where to focus. I forget that everything I do will gather together and become a legacy to someone, or maybe more than someone.
The deaths of these people, these icons in my life, have been a sad yet poignant return to mindfulness, a reminder to be aware of the legacy we’re stitching together with every word we say and every action we take. I know how I want to be remembered, but I won’t achieve my goals without work. Hard work, and the knowledge that souls never die.