Every life is an amalgam (a mixture or blend), and it is impossible to know what moments, what foibles, what charms will come to define us once we’re gone. All we can do is live our lives fully, be authentically ourselves, and trust that the right things about us, the best and most fitting things will echo in the memories of us that endure… We are at the mercy of time, and for all the ways we are remembered, a sea of things will be lost…
– Alice McDermott
(author of Someone)
Husband and I were watching an episode of Season 3, The Americans a few weeks ago. In this episode, one of the characters is struggling with her truth, more specifically, if she should share her truth, who she really is with her daughter. The truth is she is a Russian spy that has been living in America for over 20 years pretending to be a wholesome American working mom meanwhile breaking necks and stealing National secrets for the motherland. (Semi-spoiler alert: she doesn’t tell her daughter all of that.) My truth is nowhere near that juicy but it got me thinking… what will my kids know about me? What would be lost in the sea of forgotten once I was gone. Which led to question number 6 on the list I’ve been working on, that then led to this thought: if there were a sea of things that would be lost about me once I was gone, how would people remember me, or rather, how would I want to be remembered?
The narcissist in me would love to be remembered for my obvious classic and eternal beauty (insert joking grin). But that’s a fleeting and fast thought. Beauty fades. At least, outer beauty does. The writer in me would love to be remembered for her ideas, for contributing, for trying to change the climate of the way we look at our lives or ourselves. The mother in me would love to be remembered as dedicated, the wife in me as an ally, the friend in me as loyal, the woman in me as whole.
And I think all of these are good traits to be remembered by, but I think they are all parts of one larger thing I’d like to be remembered as… and that’s a fighter.
Most people who know me might agree that I’m a fighter, but often the fighter that people think I am is the no-nonsense, never-quitting, tongue-flapping, tough b*tch kind of fighter and though I’m sure I fit into that category, as well, that isn’t quite the one I’m talking about. The fighter I’m talking about is the one that Husband sees and that sometimes other people miss.
Husband sees a fighter in me who holds, who doesn’t waver in morals. Some tend to see someone who is stubborn. Husband sees someone who doesn’t let others tell her who she is. Some see someone cocky. Husband sees someone who waits on the punches until backed into a corner. Some only see the swings. Husband sees a fighter who fights for others; who asks a boy that no one asks to the dance, to dance, or who asks new kids to sit at her lunch table. Some see a fighter who is in it for herself. Husband sees the fighter who tries to reach out, to welcome, to have fun. Some see a fighter who has parties to show off and win contests.
Husband knows that tough fighters gets hurt. Some assume the jabs don’t sting.
So while the narcissist and the writer and the mother or wife or friend in me would love to be remembered as many things, I really just want my kids to remember the fighter, the one their dad sees, because those are the fighters I want them to become.
Those are the fighters I want you, both of you, to become. I want you to know that sometimes it’s tiring, and occasionally heartbreaking. I want you to know that sometimes, even the people in your corner will let you down and you may feel so totally misunderstood that it may knock you out cold. But get back up and let no one stop you or tell you you can’t or get in your way. Other times you’ll let yourself down. You may feel like you want to throw in the towel. Good. It is then that you’ll learn life’s biggest lesson: that the only person you are really ever in the ring with is yourself. There is no bigger opponent. I want you to remember that all fighters have doubts and lose fights and get hurt and go home bruised but that doesn’t stop them. And it won’t stop you. Because you, like your mother, are a fighter.
In April’s issue of O Magazine was a feature titled 20 Questions Every Woman Should Ask Themselves. I’ve decided to ask myself these questions and give a sincere try in answering them. This is question 6 of 20: How Do I Want to be Remembered?