I was thinking about this recently. What do you leave behind? Not just when you die, but in general. I started rather simply by me thinking about my wife. It has been just short of two years since her passing and Our anniversary of 2 years has passed me only a few weeks ago.

I was recounting some of the times we had together, when I was wondering what I had left of her. I have her physical remains back at home in her urn, but I was looking for something else tangible. I listed many objects, her favorite coat, pictures, a few arts and craft projects, and some personal items that do not need public mention. All these little things that are directly connected to her don’t give the connection I was looking for. Each Object help some memory, some feeling, but I could not find that which I was searching for.

So I expanded my search. I began to look at everything. I stopped and thought about our old home. The old apartment. We spent our entire 3 months of marriage and a few months of dating in that one bedroom one bath second floor with a balcony space. It occurred to me that the apartment was a part of the story that was her and I. On the physical sense, there are still pieces of her in that place. Skin cells, hair, a little blood from the cooking accident. Even with cleaning it, somewhere there is a part of her in there. In another sense, our neighbors are all remnants of our relationship. The neighbor who’s door we knocked on that Sunday at three in the morning as I tried to sleep to go to work all Sunday long. That person is thus a part of her story, and mine. The neighbor that knocked on our door when they needed a hand carrying furniture up three flights of stairs. Those above and below us, beside us and those who parked next to us and jockeyed for parking spots in the limited parking stalls. All these people are now a part of the life and memory of my wife.

My thoughts went back further. Her family and friends are in the same network. I thought it was interesting that they get named after our neighbors, but the relationship that we had with her family was special, and I am sure I will discuss it in a later posting. Every shop clerk, teacher, driver, doctor, student, and so on are all a part of her network. Even those people who she disliked or hated. Her boyfriend that was abusive is a part of her. That thought stuck with me for a moment. Even a person that she was so totally repulsed by once she realized what was going on, is now and forever an intrical part of her.

My thoughts now move forward. If everyone she touched is a part of her story, then obviously I am a part of her story, what she was and what she accomplished. And so I made this realization: She still touches people, her story still continues, and that in a sense I can never find what I am looking for. Of course the duality of the situation states that I have already found what I am looking for.

I love paradoxes.

So the answer to my question that I posed to myself is this: You leave everything behind. And the physical elements are the simplest and in a sense, the least important parts that you leave behind. And even once you do leave, whether it be from a room until the next workday or party, or you leave life all together, you continue to leave things behind.

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