For some reason I frequently feel like I’m totally forgettable. People I’ve met several times don’t seem to recall who I am. Have I left no impression at all? Am I invisible? Sometimes I wonder. If I don’t seem to leave much impression in life, how am I to leave any type of legacy after I’m gone?
When it comes to the big picture, we are all just tiny blips on the radar screen of time. We are born, we live, we die. Most of us leave behind loved ones who will mourn and remember us, but over time they too will expire and along with them, the memory of us will die. It’s as though our lives are a flame, warm and bright but fleeting. Some of us are like tiny birthday candles, snuffed out quickly and soon forgotten. Others are a bonfire, or even a forest fire. Some lives reach millions, for better or worse, others hardly reach beyond their own front doors.
Of course I want my family to remember me with love and tenderness, and I’m sure they will, at least for a little while. I do wonder what will become of me and my memory after I’m gone, but deep down I think I know. I came from nowhere, and I will return there. I was adopted at birth, never allowed to know anything about the circumstances of my origin. I simply appeared. I believe that after I’m gone a while, I will simply disappear, forgotten from the family history, possibly relegated to a footnote, or an asterisk on a distant relative’s family tree. I was a give away for one family and an add-on for another, and as such, perhaps easily dismissed by both.
Outside of my family, I hope to leave a larger legacy. I hope that somewhere out in the world at least a few of my students look back fondly on their experiences in my classroom. I hope they remember that I taught them something, or tried to make some lesson memorable, or even that I was goofy and silly in class. I hope that at least one person took away something positive from their time under my care. Sadly, I feel like the odds are against me on this point too. People grow up and move on. Rarely do they remember their fourth or second grade teacher making a mark on their lives. It seems the only time they do recall these people, they do so in horror.
Maybe this is part of the reason I write and quilt and scrapbook. These are all ways for me to say, “I was here.” I may just be one of those little blips existing in a tiny space in the universe until my own flame is snuffed out, but my life is important. I live and love and dream. I can and will leave my mark on the world, and I will do my best to leave it better than it was when I arrived.