Legends Never Die (Neither Does Anything Real)

One of the sweetest things about losing someone you love so much is that you realize what’s “real” about your relationship cannot be altered, manipulated, or erased by death.

The bond I have with my mom has only grown stronger since she’s passed. I know that if you haven’t lost someone, and maybe even if you have, that that might sound totally crazy. But it’s my truth, whether it’s a universal truth, I’m not sure.

I say all the time that my mom’s life and death are the greatest blessings of my life. There are one million (or more) lessons she’s taught me, and continues to teach me. Everything in my life is painted by her, that I know for sure.

One of my favorite things to do since she’s been gone (that I recently realized is something they suggest you do in bereavement therapy) is journal out a dialogue between my mom and I. I ask her questions and wait for the answers to come through me and out onto the page. Yes, again, I know that may sound crazy to you.

But I know her so well, I understand how her mind worked so well, that if I allow myself to—I can channel the motherly advice she would give me in moments of struggle. I can feel her eyes staring into my soul and her arms wrapping around me.

I know she would tell me to have a little more faith and a little less self-doubt. She would tell me to set down the baggage I’m carrying around and just be love. She would effortlessly encourage me and challenge me all at the same time.

There’s that famous Maya Angelou quote that you’ve likely heard before:

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

To me, these words capture the true essence of a legend. That feeling—the feeling of who that person was and what they made you feel—never goes away. And there is absolutely no higher calling for any of us than to focus on what feelings we generate for others—through our work, art, presence, and service.

My mom was the best at that. She put everyone ahead of herself (perhaps to a problematic degree). She invested her time and attention in making the people around her feel seen, heard, and loved (especially me).

When it hurts that she isn’t here (which it does more often than you’d probably imagine, still), I become acutely aware that my mom is living on through me (and countless others).

Legends, like that dear mother of mine, never die.

They live through their impact, through the people they’ve touched (and the people those people touch, too).

My mom lives on through me.

And I feel an intense sense of responsibility to do good (and well) with the investments she’s made (and continues to make) in my curiosity, my heart, and my mind.

There has been no greater gift.

Kate Ward