Today was All Saints Day at my church. The day is meant to commemorate the souls of our dearly departed. We were asked to recall people who we considered saints in our own lives and how their actions impacted us. We were also encouraged to think of our own legacy and of how we want to be remembered.
I smiled as I thought of William, my son who was born far too early to survive in this world. One of my only comforts in William’s passing is to know that he never had to experience life’s heartaches and excruciating pain. He only knew love.
I like to think that his soul is busy playing with his siblings in heaven. I try to imagine that he is enjoying the company of other relatives who are deceased. Maybe they are caring for him. Maybe they are able to watch as he takes his first steps and as he starts uttering his first words.
But then again, maybe there is no age in heaven. It’s hard for me to think of William as anyone other than a one-and-a-half-year-old bouncing toddler or as the beautiful, tiny 2.5-ounce baby who fit snugly in my palm when he was born, but maybe he’s not. Maybe souls don’t age. Maybe they are able to do what they want when they want. Enjoy the warmth of the summer breeze. Look out across the gently swirling waters of a beautiful lake. Marvel in the beauty of the world without interruption.
I like to imagine that William checks in on his dad and me from time to time. He occasionally sends signals to let us know that he is doing okay. On the week of his first birthday, the Rose of Sharon that we planted in his honor suddenly burst into bloom. It was the first week of January, a time of year when plants usually remain barren and void of life. But, despite the cold weather, William’s Rose of Sharon sprang to life, sprouting green leaves that have remained on the plant to this day.
He sent me a rainbow on the same day that my husband’s stepmother died. I had been wanting to see a rainbow. For some reason, it became a silent obsession. I would search the sky for them anytime that I thought there could be one. I would rush to a window anytime someone said they saw one. Still, it seemed as if the rainbows were trying to evade my searching eyes. But, on the day my husband’s stepmother died, there it was — a bright rainbow that colored the sky above me. I like to think that William and his stepgrandmother were sending me a message — “It’s okay. We’re up here together and we’re good.”
It’s comforting to think of William’s soul and what he might be experiencing. I hope to one day join him, and he inspires me to try to be the best person I can be. When I think of the legacy that I want to leave, part of me is sad. Because I’m not sure I will have living children or grandchildren to recall fond childhood memories.
On the other hand, I think of my legacy and my children’s legacies as intertwined. They never had the opportunity to experience life. Therefore, I need to live the life that I would have hoped for them. I need to share with the world the lessons that they have taught me through their brief stay on Earth.
I hope to live a life that is kind and loving. I hope to provide a listening ear to others who are enduring life’s struggles. I hope to be an empathetic presence to others, whatever difficulty they are facing. I hope to embrace the present moment and to appreciate everyone in my life.
William and his siblings have introduced me to a new outlook on life. They have made me a better, more understanding and more caring person. I need to show others how they have changed me. Because by doing that, I am sharing their legacies with the world.