Thursday, February 16, 2012

Legacy

This has been a heck of a year so far. I've lost several friends and acquaintances to breast cancer and several more to heart attacks and accidents. Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, a call, email, text or Tweet would come about someone else's passing. The memorials and funerals have truly exhausted me, but they have gotten me thinking about legacy a lot more than ever.

My reality is this: I am a breast cancer survivor. Since there is absolutely no cure for this disease, the chance that it could come back with a vengence and take me away from my family is very real. Other than some meories and a few blog posts, what will be left of me after I'm gone? And what will those life left-overs say about me and what I did with my time here on earth?

The frineds whom I lost recently ranged in age from 21 to 65 years of age. Their legacies include their children, their writing, their advocacy and the promise of what life had in store for them had they been here still to live it. They leave behind husbands and wives, children and Internet sisters, girlfriends and parents, relatives and friends who all remembered them "when" - when they were alive and kicking, doing their thing and living life like they had all the time in the world. Sadly, they didn't. How will the memories of who they were live on?

A few days ago, I was asked to write a bio for a presentation this spring. I was warned that writing about myself can be difficult - which I already knew, but I really had no idea why until I sat down to write this particular bio. Most of the people reading it will know me from the world of martial arts, although the award is for teaching outside the dojo. The truth is that I'm more than just a teacher and a karateka, but if you only see me in a gi or behind the podium in a lecture hall, you'd be none the wiser. The difficulty in writing about all you do and all you are, I found, is all about what NOT to include. Who wants their bio to read like they are a superhero?

But isn't that what we all are? Nobody just does one thing all their life - be that world politics, a more mundane day job or heading a fabulous yearly fund-raiser/event. We're all much more of a multi-faceted entity than how we can describe ourselves to someone we're meeting for the first time.

So this is who I am: mom, ex-wife, wife-to-be, advocate for at-risk youth, college professor, karate student and instructor, track coach, former soccer coach, dancer, wanna-be drummer, rabid Prince fan, editor, writer, publisher, photographer, track star, best friend, payer of tuition, chief cook and dishwasher, dog walker, cat litter-scooper, blogger, dreamer - still, none of them completely capture my essence.

What I want people to know about me when I am no longer here for them to get to know for themselves is not the sound of my voice or my love of R&B. I want folks to know about my passion for doing what is right - be it in the dojo or with people who expect to learn something from me in the classroom or for folks who stumble across my breast cancer blog. I want people to know that I felt things while I was here - and that I tried my best to do something to help right as many wrongs as I could.

I've learned a little something from every person I've ever come in contact with, too. All of it - the good and the bad - have helped mold me into the person writing this today. As I learn more lessons, I have come to understand that I am still a work in progress - and I hope to be until the day I draw my last breath.

Thanks for being a part of my progress, dear reader. Thanks for letting me be a part of yours, too. But thanks mostly to the wonderful souls who have gone on. The facets you let shine were appreciated more than you could ever know.