Next week will mark fifteen years since my daughter Alison died. She will have been gone three times longer than she was alive. And yet the five years I had with her leave a lasting legacy like no other.
Yes, of course her life, her spirit, and my memories with her are a large part of that legacy but it is so much more. Sure, it’s the work I’ve done because of her loss, the things like ‘Ohana Oasis, speaking, and writing. But most importantly, it’s the legacy of a changed life. Some of it welcomed change and some of it not so much.
Since Alison’s death I vowed to make her life, in its entirety, which also includes her death, a positive force in mine. For me this meant a commitment to living my best life. There are times I wish I hadn’t made this vow.
It’s a tall order. Living life in the mundane day to day is so much easier than actually living life vibrantly. To live a full life I have to show up each and every day. I have to feel the feelings, know what I want and don’t want, and do something about it. This means having an intimate relationship with myself, which is sometimes simply no fun. I don’t always like what I see and I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way.
This honesty can be brutal. In the early years it was being honest with the pain, first sitting with it and then letting it go when I saw I was using it as a shield to protect me from new forms of pain. It’s being honest with the parts of myself I don’t like, the defense mechanisms I’ve always had and those I’ve built. And it’s being honest with the good things too, knowing it’s okay to love them. It’s being able to admit I can enjoy life without my daughter here. I am far from perfect, and I am still sorting out living a full life every day but I haven’t given up. And when I sat outside enjoying the sunset last night I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the imperfect life I’m living. That’s a legacy I can smile about.