Last week an old friend and my Aunt Patty died, both at a younger age (one 47, one 51). My aunt had been sick for a while, back and forth between little glimpses of hope and more bad news.

The service for my aunt was on Friday morning. I don’t think any of it really sank in right then, though. She lived in St. Louis and so I went from working up through Thursday straight to a road trip. After the funeral (the next couple day) I was just melancholy. I started dreaming about other family members dying.

I have a feeling that’s all pretty normal. We all think about our mortality when faced with the death of a loved one. Life is short. In the cosmic sense, it’s a tiny blip on the radar. When we are gone, all that’s left is our legacy.

I don’t mean a legacy of business acumen or financial success. I mean a legacy of touched lives. That’s really the only thing that lasts, ultimately. How many people did we help? How many people did we love? Did we treat people well?

Will people remember me as a passive aggressive jerk? Or will they remember me as a kind and loving person? I’m not sure – but I hope that it’s the latter.

Whatever else is true, I know this. I want to squeeze every little drop of life out of every single day I get. I want to make sure I tell Nicole and Amber I love them, every single day. I want Amber to have a great life, and I want Nicole’s dreams to come true. I want to say yes to new experiences (never letting my anxiety get the best of me). I want to be thankful for the good things in my life instead of sad about the things I don’t have. I want to help people who can’t help themselves. I want to always choose trust over cynicism, love over bitterness, and compassion over judgment. I want to meet people where they are.

I don’t want my epitaph to read “he made a lot of money” or “he was good at math.” I want it to say “he lived and loved out loud.”

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