07 June, 2021

Leaving our mark on the world

Only a couple of weeks after I visited my elder sister in the South Island, I had to get on a flight and head south again, this time for a funeral. It's been quite the month for family losses - a cousin's husband, my aunt, and now my father’s youngest sibling has just died. I’ve missed a number of family funerals because I live here in another island, but this was one I did not want to miss. Even though 1-in-100 year floods did their best to mess up everyone’s plans.

It was a lovely funeral, even though I now feel quite weepy about it. Not, I think, because he had died. As much as it can be, his death was a good one after a long life, and he was surrounded by his family at the last. Each passing, and each funeral, I guess raises issues for me. "Who will be with me at the last?" I always wonder when I write those words. But then I think, does it matter that much? If I’m conscious and aware, yes maybe. But if not, I’m not sure. It's not the end that worries me. It's the time leading up to that. But that's a topic for another day.

The funeral however, turned out to be lovely, because we caught up with many of our cousins. For those of you who live close to family, this may not be unusual. It wasn’t unusual for my sister, who is still in the same province where we all grew up. But it was unusual for me – with some of them, I’d barely said hello since I left school. We just never really connected again; when I was down in the South Island, my focus was on my parents and sister and her family. It still is. My eldest niece moved back to the town where she grew up about 7-8 years ago, and it has been an absolute delight having more to do with her and her family whenever I’m in town.

But a few years ago I reconnected with some of the cousins I had been closer to during our childhood at a reunion, and this was another opportunity to reconnect with some others. And that was really special. Our lives have all gone in completely different directions, and I think for a long time we were quite happy with that lack of contact. But we still have that shared childhood connection, and it is a bond (however tenuous) that will remain forever. We’re getting older now, and it is as if the bond is getting stronger again. It provided me with a bit of comfort to know that.

I guess I’m writing about this here because we often worry about our old age, our deaths, and who will mourn us. It seems weird to say this, but I know my cousins will mourn me, as I will mourn them. Even if what they’re really mourning is the end of those happy days of our shared childhood. That will be enough for me, I think. It's yet another reminder that we have already touched so many lives, and will continue to do so, just by our pure presence here. We don't have to have children to leave our mark on this world, on current and future generations, recognised, or silent but meaningful.

Anyway, that all feels quite morbid, but it's not meant to be. After all, I hope we all have decades yet to leave our legacies. Besides, there are still things to do and places to go and bloggers to meet!


  1. Dear Mali,
    I agree completely - you don't have to have children to leave our mark on this world.

    You have left an important mark on my life. With you - accepting my childless life was much easier. Just because I found deep comfort in reading your thoughts - and you represented for me someone who has walked my path a decade before me.

    Not long ago another blogger - a decade younger from me, Elaine, wrote a comment on my post, that because of me she is listening to French chansons again. Her comment meant a world to me. And that's why I am commenting on your blog.

    Exactly - you still do have things do to and places to go and bloggers to meet. And don't forget - to meet bloggers that you haven't spent enough time with on your previous travellings ;)

  2. Dear Mali,
    I sent the comment to quickly. I wanted to - first of all - wish my sincerest condolences for all the losses in your family.

  3. I'm sorry for the recent losses you've faced. It's a lot.

    Interesting observation that the cousin bond is getting stronger now. I'm sensing that, too, with some of my cousins. It's sad that a funeral is more likely to get us together than a just-because occasion. Hmmm.

    Love your last sentence. Ahem!

  4. I don't think it's weird at all. I think it's lovely. I'm so sorry that it was a funeral that brought you all together, but I'm glad you got to go—both for the closure and the connection.