She left so much behind. She took so much with her.
Before Lydia died she asked me to not let Matt forget her. A child does not forget a mother. Those lives touched by Lydia have not forgotten. Time fades. But memory and meaning interweaves moment and brings color to present tense. What Lydia did continues in the doing.
At the end of her life Lydia devoted much of her time to providing a place for children affected by HIV/AIDS. Either the parent was infected and needed help with childcare or the child was infected and needed a safe place to be.
She spent long hours filling out the non-profit paperwork, finding a facility, raising money, doing everything she could to provide care. Others joined in to complete her vision for nothing is born in isolation just as nothing is lived in isolation.
I don’t believe Lydia looked at the project as part of her legacy. It was not her nature to think in such terms. She saw a need that needed to be addressed. Unbeknownst to Lydia and I the board voted to call the refuge for children Bryan’s House. Bryan, our son, was one of the first children to die of AIDS in the area.
Lydia lived to see the house filled with the laughter of children, the beautiful love of volunteers and staff, and a community of service grow from within her heart to the ground beneath our feet.
Lydia’s life is not defined by Bryan’s House. Bryan’s House is defined by everyone who has touched a life that has passed through its doors, including Lydia’s.
What we touch, touches us. Every moment reverberates with an intertwining eternal touch on our multilayered lives. Love lives in every touch.
When Matt died, I moved from Dallas rather quickly. I was in free fall and needed to find how to free float. I moved back to the Northern California coast. I did not stay in touch with Bryan’s House. I kept up with its developments from a distance simply because I was living in distance, untethered in my Afterloss.
The other day I spoke with David, the executive director of Bryan’s House, and one of its board members, Karen. Ray, a dear friend of mine, approached David about having a book launch for Out of the Ashes: Healing in the Afterloss, the account of the lives my family led and coming to a place of peace through the Afterloss. In our telephone conversation, they graciously invited me to return in September.
I was not prepared for what my return would mean for me. Another layer of love unfolded. Many times in the conversation I was on the verge of tears. What touched me most was the memory of Lydia and how they have continued to care for children, now not just with HIV, but all children at risk.
What surfaced were the long nights she spent going over the paperwork, the time she took me to the first facility, the first time she held a child there and the look on her face. She radiated contentment, determination, above all, love. She was the ultimate testament of touch.
Lydia touched many lives and many lives touched hers.
I think of all the people that we touch and how that touch never goes away. Somewhere in the recesses of life resides every touch, every encounter, every word, every feeling…everything.
So what we leave behind is everything. And what we take with us is everything. And what we have, and will always have, is everything.
Legacy is a word I don’t easily relate to. Legacy is defined as something from the past. Someone said to me that the book I wrote was a legacy to Lydia, Matt and Bryan. Others have said Bryan’s House is a legacy to Lydia. But I don’t relate to life as being past, present and future. What was, is. What will be, is. What is, is.
Bryan’s House is still living under the touch of every touch. I live with the touch of everyone that has touched me.
How long does touch last? Just as long as love lasts – forever.