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Living beyond life

April 10, 2012

Oops. A little scheduling glitch. Sorry. 

As I write this, it’s been a few days since Kaye Coppersmith passed. Add that to the passing of Dahris Clair. And the passing of a wonderful woman I met less than a month ago in a writing marathon–a woman trying to write down as much as she could before the cancer took her. That day must have been a good day for her, because if she hadn’t said she had terminal cancer, I wouldn’t have known. Part of me didn’t want to believe it.

So death has lingered large in life the past couple weeks. And it will again. It’s a certainty. There are two types of people–people who have died and people who will die. And then everything they were will freeze, fade, and eventually blend into the collective human history that makes the current generation what it is.

I suspect there will be something done to make Kaye’s name survive her presence here. And Dahris was the guiding force behind an FWA chapter that’s still going strong–helping people write their stories and leave their legacies. And the woman I met at the writing marathon got to write more of her story for her kids–and their kids and their kids.

Three different people, each with a different legacy. Each having to do with words and stories and future generations. From the beginning of history, we’ve been about stories. The first stories were told around a fire, something to do in the evening in the dark, a way to connect the past generations with the future. Today, we’re more sophisticated. Our stories travel through the air, like the used to. But they aren’t all audible any more. Now they travel in invisible data streams, beamed from our houses or favorite writing spots to outer space and back again, arriving mere seconds after they were spun.

And when the stories are told well, they provide a legacy.

That about how your grandfather worked twelve hours a day when he was fifteen. The story of how you returned from the service, still in uniform when that same man welcomed you home and, in the same sentence, asked if you had a job yet. The story of how when your wife was pregnant the first time and you went to the class, you asked if you could bring your own knife when they said you could cut the cord. And how you cried like the baby that’d just been born after you held your daughter for the first time.

We are blessed to have this storytelling ability. It entertains, sure. It presents ideas, which can be more powerful than the biggest explosive device. But it also connects us from one generation to the next. It makes us a long procession of related people, gives us the ability to transcend our physical limits.

Kaye, Dahris, and the woman in the writing marathon have already done this.

Let’s you and I do it, too.

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One Comment
  1. April 10, 2012 8:02 pm

    Beautifully expressed Chris.
    How easy it is to forget that our days are finite. When someone dies, we ache, as the void their passing carves into our hearts. We mourn their deaths, celebrate their lives and cherish our memories. In a corner of our minds we admit that our turn at the head of the line will surely come. Until then, we honor our dead by fully living our own lives.

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