Leaving a Legacy

“If life’s a bitch then death’s a slut. Cos death comes for everyone, and when it’s you turn you’re fucked.” – Hilltop Hoods

I struggle with death. I’ve always struggled with death.

As a teenager, I failed to see my self-worth. I felt I offered more problems than solutions, and I thought people’s lives would be simpler if I wasn’t around. I’d set up nooses, press knives against my skin, and live a life of reckless endangerment.

Then, people died. My aunty and uncle committed suicide a year apart, a family friend died with a needle in his arm. My reactions to these events were selfish, sometimes tinged with jealousy. My mum, however, was distraught.

The suicidal thoughts tapered off after this but they never fully left. Even in my 30s I have often looked at trees and poles and the like while I’ve been driving and thought, ‘how easy it would be to turn the wheel slightly and put an end to it all?’ I obviously haven’t done it yet and I don’t ever plan to but the thoughts linger.

This year I lost two people I wish I had more opportunities to bond with. One was a young girl, the other a man slightly older than me. I wrote about it at the time and that certainly helped me through the immediate grief but I still have moments when it hits me, hard. One of these was on my footy club’s end of season trip in November. You see, the young girl is the daughter of one my teammates and the slightly older man was also on the team. The man’s nickname was written on the bus wheel and, at one pit stop on the way to our destination, I sat next to the type for a moment of peace, reflection and remorse. When we reached our accommodation, I hugged the father and told him I missed his daughter. We all then headed to the local tavern and, once we got there, I snuck away to the car park. I rang my wife in tears.

It didn’t help that both of these two fantastic people died within close proximity to the 10 year anniversary of my dad’s death. Ours was a relationship of regret and lost opportunities and it’s complicated nature has impacted on my ability to find peace in his passing.

Other deaths and near-deaths rocked my footy club and workplace throughout the year. It seemed as though I couldn’t escape deaths shadow and, as such, I couldn’t escape my grief.

A fortunate side effect of thinking about death is that I’ve imagined what my funeral will look like and what people will say. I say fortunate because it has helped me gain perspective. It has helped me decide how I want to live and what legacy I leave behind.

I want to be known as a decent human being. I want to be remembered as someone with a big heart, someone who helped people.

You see, I’m not seeking death; I’m chasing immortality.

I want to inspire people. I want to be a role model. I want my humour, humility and humanity to serve as traits other people want to see in themselves.

If this happens and they inspire others in turn, then my influence will outlive my body.

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