Living a legacy

Tomorrow, I start a new job.
It’s a big change – one of those seismic career shifts.
A leap of faith.
An escape.
Until now, almost all of my thoughts have been about all the things this new job will not be. Only now, as I think about what to wear tomorrow and remember to pack kleenex have I started to think about what tomorrow will bring – instead of what it won’t.
I bought a new backpack this weekend in anticipation. As of tomorrow, I will be a pedestrian. My most anticipated excitement is the fact that my new job is located close enough to home to walk to. I bought the snazziest backpack there was. Not too big, not too flashy – but technical enough to rock-climb with. Because every latte-slinging-texting-pedestrian-Momma’s gotta have her hands free.
Dearest has taken to referring to everything past and future as pre Job Change and post Job Change.
It’s been the most difficult professional decision I’ve ever made.

Yesterday, my Grandmother passed away.
It’s the second death in my family in a week, and the third in a season. Each one a phenomenal person, each death a blow. A regret. A reminder that there is never enough time.
She taught me how to make music from spoons.
She never lit up a room – but she warmed it, quietly, contentedly.
She was the hardest-working person I’ve every known – and the most grateful.

Last week my cousin passed away – a week ago today.
She was the bravest person I’ve ever known. She’d disagree, though. My Grandmother, she’d argue, is far more deserving of the title. An uneducated, French-speaking Catholic farmwife who left her husband when he started beating their children instead of just her and moved to English Montreal in the early 1950s against her family’s, her village’s, and her faith’s strictures – and raised her three children on her own on a sewing sweatshop’s pay – surely, she’s the braver, my cousin would say. Grandmaman would scoff, and say that she wasn’t brave at all – she just made the choices that she had to make, and made the best of what was left, after. Mmhmm, my cousin would say back. Agreeing. She, my cousin, having had a life far too short, far too unfair and far too painful, would agree with that definition of courage. To choose to make the best of it.

This, then, is the legacy that these two defining women have left me. The bone-deep knowledge that life takes determination – it requires that you be determined, but also that you do determine. Death is a certainty, but a well-lived-life is not. One comes mostly unsought, and the other from the seeking of it. The making the best of it.

Today, I played with my son and my Goddaughters.
Sad, apprehensive, relieved, wound-up – I was a perfect storm amidst a storm. Three whirling dervishes scattering toys, crumbs, sippy cups, crafts, decibels and bo-bos rampaged. There is no sitting back, taking stock, taking time. An even keel is not always possible in pitched seas. And so I too yell, slam, walk away, apologize, hug – as needed.

Life’s a mess – and I am a mess in it. Gloriously, gratefully, determinedly so.
“Leap,” they whisper in my ear, my Grandmother and cousin, my family heroines. “We showed you how.”

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2 comments so far

  1. Lynn on

    Wow, I’m so sorry to hear of your losses, and coming so close together must make it extra hard right now. My thoughts are with you.

  2. Moosilaneous on

    Leap well, my friend, leap well.


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