What We Leave Behind

I’m not sure how to begin this blog post, since I’m still in a wobbly place emotionally. But the bottom line is this – I have a new grandbaby. A beautiful little soul who will carry on my genetic line, the genes of her other grandparents (including my ex-husband), and those of all of our thousands and thousands of ancestors. It’s actually quite mind-blowing, when I stop and think about it (though, of course, the prevalent feeling at this time is absolute joy). I look into her sweet, slate-gray eyes, and see the wisdom of the ages looking back at me. I whisper my secrets to her, and she sighs the knowledge of millennia of trial and error; all the love and all the learning. Within her smile is the acknowledgement that she knows at the moment of her birth all of the teachings of the ancestors who cradled her through the 37 weeks after her conception, as she waited in her mother’s womb to come into our lives. She carries the Universe in her body, and in her Spirit.

I’ve wanted to be a Mom more than anything else since I was a small child. When I brought four offspring into the world (not counting the ones who didn’t make it all the way to birth), I found it was everything I had hoped for and more – the “more” being all the challenges and struggles and pain and hardships that I didn’t expect, especially after their biological father and I parted ways. It was definitely the toughest job I ever loved, and still is. But, for some reason, being a Nonni (Italian for grammie) is in a class by itself.

There’s something about this stage of life that makes me long to pass the torch. I had friends who became grandparents at a young age – one when she was 36 – and I wonder whether they had the same experience as I’m having now. It’s a drive (at times bordering on desperation) to be sure that I will be able to impart all that I’ve learned to this little person before it’s too late for me to do so. As my mortality smacks me straight in the face on a daily basis, and the clock ticking away does not stop its relentless progression, I know that there will come a time, be it days or years or decades, when I will leave my beloveds and move on to what comes next. It would break my heart to know that, if they’re willing to listen, I wasn’t able to pass on to them what I have learned here before I leave, in the hopes that they may avoid some of my mistakes.

My mediumship work here and now is focused on those who came before. I was lucky and blessed to be able to find a way to communicate with my “people” directly in the twilight of my years here on this plane, and to channel their knowledge. My attention over the past seven years or so has been on listening intently to what they have to say to me – feeling their thoughts and words in my body and Spirit. I was given the gift of being able to hear the words of those who are closer to those who come for readings as well. Not different families, since we are all related in some way – everyone on the planet, if you trace the lines back far enough; but different branches. The wisdom of the ancestors informs our everyday lives, whether we realize it or not.

But the wisdom of our descendants – those who come from us and are here, and those not yet born – is just as important, and just as real. We think of babies and children as innocent and in need of guidance and education. We see them as tabula rasa – needing to be written upon with our way of thinking and being, and taught right from wrong. But in so doing we forget where they’ve come from. They’re close enough to the veil that they still remember what came before they entered this world. And, if we listen, they have so much to tell us.

When my first daughter was born, she had a calm presence – as if she knew all there is to know, and she had no fears. Once she began to talk, she began to reveal some of what she knew. She knew words in other languages that I had to look up to understand. When she was about two years old, she named her stuffed Tiger “Ichiba” – similar to a Japanese word for “first.” She named a doll dressed in Native clothes and made for her by her young cousin (not sure native to where, but it was a lovely and colorful costume) “Babayuku,” similar to the word “grandmother” or “witch” in some Baltic languages. Another of her stuffed kittens became “Wen” – Chinese for “warm.” Ironically, she went on to learn Mandarin Chinese, and to live and teach in China for a while. When my second daughter was two, she was enthralled by her newborn brother. She acted as though she recognized him, and told a story of how he tried to save her from the fire, and wasn’t able to, and how now they were both here. “Finally,” she would say, “my brother is here.” For a few years she was utterly terrified of fire, and her brother’s favorite dress up play was as a fire fighter. As they grew, they forgot their old lives as their memories were replaced with the new ones of this life.

Our mistake with children is to assume that they know nothing, instead of taking for granted that they know everything, and lack only the means to share it with us. Part of a baby’s reason for crying often is the frustration of not being understood, and not having needs immediately met. Imagine how peaceful a baby’s (and their parents’) life would be if she or he were able to say – “Mom, I’m hungry now,” “I pooped in my diaper and I’m uncomfortable,” “Please hold me, I’d like to feel your heartbeat again,” or “My tummy hurts,” rather than having to wait for their parents to try to figure out their needs through trial and error. Sadly, the older they grow, their interest and attention goes to the vast world around them, and they lose touch with their past lives and all they learned in that time, and with their ancestors, forgetting their peace and wisdom. It takes the rest of our life, a time of trying and failing, for most of us to begin getting back in touch with what we knew when we were born.

Knowing that I will leave a part of myself behind when I move on, people whose bodies were created by the children whose bodies I created – gives me such a peaceful feeling. Even if they don’t grow up to have children of their own, just knowing that our family legacy extends another hundred or so years puts a finer point on my time here – a purpose at least partially fulfilled.

Yet not all legacies are flesh and blood. If you haven’t wanted children, or have children who don’t share your genetic line, it doesn’t mean you won’t leave a remnant of yourself. Neither does a legacy necessarily mean something monetary, or a building or great work of art, or some extraordinary feat or great work for the planet. To put a fine point on it that says it all – it’s love. In every sense of the word. It’s selflessness, compassion, empathy. It’s generosity – of your time, your resources, your vision. It’s helping others, the environment, the planet. And if your first thought upon hearing this is “that’s not me – I have nothing to give,” you are so wrong. You give by existing. You give by receiving. You give by showing up, by breathing, by being there. Each of us leaves some sort of legacy – some positive, others negative. Even those who live on “in infamy” can leave a legacy that makes a difference, as a cautionary tale for others to avoid such behavior (or refuse to allow it, especially from our leaders) in the future. Hopefully, we are able to learn from our mistakes, and those made by others, to improve life for each and every one of us.

What legacy will you leave behind? I’m hoping that mine will be not only my physical, living, breathing descendants, but the knowing that I have brought to others about their ancestors through my intercession; the impact I’ve made on those I love just by being here, and the energy that I put out to the Universe in hopes of making a lasting difference. I hope that I will be remembered for my ability to love.


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