Thurston Howell or Bob? You make the call.Image by califmom via Flickr

An email arrived in my inbox last Friday, just after 11pm. It was from a woman I’d never met, a name I didn’t recognize, from a state I’d never visited. It was about how she knew my husband. How she had met him online fifteen years ago in an online game they played. How much he loved me. How he had helped her meet her own husband through that game. It was about what a great friend he was to her, how caring he was.

I cried. Again. Another story. I have an every-growing collection of them that becomes overwhelming at times.

At lunch Monday, as Bob’s mother and I were talking, she said she was struggling with some of the ugliness of what’s been left behind in the wake of his death. So, I told her a few of the stories. “See,” I said. “you raised an amazing son who made a positive impact on so many lives. He touched thousands of people. Not a week goes by that I don’t hear from somebody about how he made a difference in their life.”

And those are just the people I hear from directly. There are also all of the indirect ways people show how Bob impacted them--in how they are living their own lives—changes they’ve made in the way they live, the way they treat each other, charitable causes they’ve taken on in his name, and even simple things like taking time to smell the proverbial roses.

It’s made me think hard about what my legacy will be; who will call when I’m gone, send an email late on a Friday night, call my kids, bring meals, spend the night to keep my family company, and make sure they’re okay long after the sod has been placed over the grave. Will my kindergarten teacher send a card?

What about you?

Who will come to your funeral?

Who will lose sleep over giving your eulogy?

Who will tell your stories?

Who will support your spouse in her time of need?

Will a crowd gather at the funeral reception and discover you were everyone's best friend?

Will there be kids who wished you'd been their father?

What will your life have been about?

What will your legacy be?