Legacy

I read The Last Lecture today. The entire book.  I did so after looking through pictures and wall posts on S Lychako’s Facebook profile. Lychako was one of my good friends my freshman year of college and he died this week, unexpectedly. It wasn’t that looking through his stuff and thinking about him randomly spurred me to read this book. It happened more so by coincidence. Pam started a book club at work and this is the first book we’re reading and while I was on Facebook, I noticed it sitting on my desk, picked it up and 206 pages later, put it down.

I am a rather unemotional person (but I am working on it and making great strides) and death is something that always makes me feel akward. I know that is an odd feeling to associate with death but because I am not good at being sad, I just feel akward at knowing I should be and not being so. Follow me?

But as I read through the wall posts people left, saying good bye in shock and in sadness, it made me really sad. It made me sad to the point that my eyes welled up in tears. Maybe if I weren’t at work, they would have made their way down.

The more annoying part of me couldn’t help but analyze the situation. I googled Lychako to see what I’d find and slowly started to try and decide what kind of legacy he was leaving behind. From his wall anyone would be able to tell he was a happy, awesome kid. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. He was always smiling and could make anyone laugh.

So here we have Lychako, my 20-something year-old friend, leaving this world unexpectedly, with no control of the legacy he’s going to leave behind.  Then enter Randy Pausch who had months to build a carefully crafted legacy made of videos, interviews, books and letters. I am not sure how to explain it but it is just wild to me.  Should we have a choice in the matter?

What would my legacy look like if I was plucked out from this Earth tomorrow and I had no control of what was left beind? What would you all have to say? Have to think? What would people think when they went through my stuff? And what would it look like if I knew my exit date? What would it look like if I got to decide what pieces of me would be left behind as concrete memories? Would the legacies be the same?

I’d like to think that they would be pretty similar. But realistically, I think we all tend to look at ourselves in a better light than we actually are and given the choice, what we’d leave behind might be different than the trail we’d leave if the element of choice wasn’t there.

I am by no means trying to write a moral lesson here.. sorry. If you want to hear my lessons learned from dying, ask me about my dad and his death.  I could write my own Last Lecture on that. I am merely thinking out loud about two extremes that I’ve encountered today and the irony of it all.

If I were to die unexpectedly, there are three things that would serve as the keys to remembering me as I really was, to my legacy. My gmail account, my year-end summary from American Express and my prayer book. Through those, you’d be able to find out what I did, thought and felt. Not that I’d want all of you to know all of that.

Ok, on a less somber note (somber isn’t really me), two favorite lines from the book:

Pg.16 …”my dad always taught me that when there’s an elephant in to room, introduce it.”

Pg.185 “Tell your friend that in his death, a part of you dies and goes with him. Wherever he goes, you also go. He will not be alone.”

 

I haven’t watched The Last Lecture yet but if you want to skip the book, here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo

2 thoughts on “Legacy

  1. Lauren Eldridge says:

    Hi! I find your site very interesting… (in a good way). What are you doing now? Is this site related to your career or is it something you just do for personal reasons? I stumbled upon it when I googled Lychako’s name because I’m really saddened by his death and it’s been kind of bothering me that I have no idea what happened. I don’t think it ultimately really matters, I think it’s just the curiosity (medically speaking, I do work in a hospital after all). I met him when he was valeting at Andrew’s and then I later met Austin. Death is a very interesting thing and I find that I am having issues dealing with it as well. I work on the oncology and cardiac floors at TMH and I definitely don’t know how to act when I’m dealing with a patient and his/her family when the patient is imminent. Most people think that my job sounds really sad and depressing but honestly it doesn’t bother me the majority of the time. The only hard times have been when I have met the patient/family and then the patient passes away when he/she is here (my worst day was a 24 year old who died from leukemia and I was with the family outside his room). I think if there was one college course I could still take I would take Death & Dying. When I was in London for 6 weeks it was one of the classes that was taught and I remember hearing so much about it and how amazing the professor was (apparently she is a doctor and she’s been on Oprah). But I think it’s a very worthwhile and inspiring thing to sit down and think about how others would react to your death… it causes you to think about what others may think about you which causes you to think about what kind of person you really are. Anyway, I’m supposed to be working, so I should go! I hope you are well! Bye!

  2. amy says:

    i love that you posted this. i love that happy kid and his happy smile, and did just what you did just now…thanks for thinking about him, thanks for remembering him, and thanks for being a top hit when others like myself decide to google steven just cuz we’re thinking about him. i don’t think i know you, but thank you.
    [live forever, s. lychakolate]<3

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