Monday, October 17, 2011

Secret of Eternal life?

I am often asked if I believe in life after death. I say I don’t think about it but I do. I honestly do not believe in a life like the one we have now after we perish. If there is anything I don’t believe we would understand it in terms of time, place and identity. What really brings about eternal life is what we leave behind. Not the physical things we collect or build. Donald Trump for example is not the model to strive for. But it is the emotions, the feelings and the teachings that we leave behind. Yesterday I was starkly reminded of that.

I attended the funeral of a grandmother of a colleague and a friend. A woman who was known by both direct family and many others as Bubbe (Yiddish for grandma) she left behind a large and beautiful family. She was able to see 4 generations grow up around her and all the members of the family I know epitomize what it means to be a mentsch (another Yiddish word meaning someone who makes the world a better place). Her funeral was a as much a celebration of a long life as it was a sorrowful good-bye, the sadness of loss tempered by the memories that made her special.

After the funeral I returned home and later that day I happened upon the Indy Car race from Las Vegas only to see that a major wreck had stopped the race and a story of one driver, Dan Wheldon, had been airlifted to a local hospital. It wasn’t long that people knew what many suspected. Wheldon had died from his injuries. Almost immediately we saw a large number of people talking about this man and his devotion to family and to community. He was always seen as a nice guy in the highly competitive world of motorsports. Other drivers openly wept and spoke of both personal connections with Wheldon and his tireless work raising awareness of early onset Alzheimer’s disease, a disorder his mother was diagnosed with.

In both of these lives, one 3 times longer than the other, the steps these two people took left deep prints on the hearts of many. The sparks they left behind will live on and influence untold numbers of people in a positive way. That might truly be the secret to eternal life, leaving behind good feelings, a family who takes your lessons to heart and a legacy of adding goodness to the world while you are here. And even if it isn’t, don’t we all want our demise to be mourned by many and leave behind stories that we would love to hear told about us?

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