I noticed a few weeks ago that I had avoided the pictures I have of Matt around my room. Around my son’s birthday at the end of January I was struggling immensely with my emotions. I cried secretly in the bathroom a few times because I didn’t want to speak about the pain I was experiencing and I didn’t want anyone in the house to notice. I am not sure why, I guess I figured it was easier for me.
One day as I was replacing the weekly flowers I place near Matt’s ashes, I stopped and looked at the pictures placed on the table. I forced myself to stare at his face, to take in his smile, to fall into his gaze and recapture the man I love. As I sat there I tried to put myself back into the moment the picture was taken and it hit me, I struggled to remember Matt’s voice. My heart broke and tears instantly fell. I felt ashamed for not remembering the way he laughed, or how he sounded when he would call me from work just to say, “I love you.” How could this happen? He was my everything, surely his voice would be cemented in my memory. Why was I struggling so? Sadly, it was another layer of guilt I piled on top of myself.
Quickly I grabbed my computer and opened Facebook and went straight to his video uploads. I played every single video, save a few, just so I could hear his voice again. It made me smile and laugh. It brought back moments in our life together that I had forgotten about. Like during the beginning of summer when the lemon eucalyptus would bloom in our yard and from 5:30am till evening time the tree would be littered with rainbow lorikeets squawking non-stop. It would drive us mad! Or the time when my little brother was living with us in Collaroy, Matt bet him five dollars to touch the Kookaburra and crazy enough he did (you may have to see the video to understand how funny it was). Matt’s voice and laughter mixed with humour in that video captured him perfectly.
It was in those moments of reminiscing that I realised I couldn’t avoid my feelings…or Matthew’s pictures. One way or another I would end up having to face them and in this case it brought me moments of happiness. While I still struggle with trying to recall Matt’s voice, at times what I do remember is what he would say in certain situations, or how he would act. I remember everything he did, I remember his mannerism and his smile. I remember his touch and his kiss.
I guess when Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” I can see that truth in a different way. Matt’s voice may come and go from memory but what lingers are his actions and how he made me feel. The man he was isn’t defined by his voice but by the world he created around him through his spirit. And that is something I can hold on to and recall with such vigour that no layer of guilt will be able to cover his bright light. So in the end, when all is said and done, what you say holds little power over what you do or how you treat others. To be properly remembered, let your actions speak and let them be filled with love and compassion so the feeling lingers and carries on. For that is your legacy.