What would I want my legacy to be? To be honest, I looked the word up to ensure I knew its defining well enough to self reflect on it. Legacy, from the Latin term ‘legare,’ meaning to ‘pass on.’ Therefore, let the question be, if I could choose it, what would I pass on to those I’d leave behind. After consideration, if it were possible for me to choose the way I’d be remembered, I thought to not to be remembered at all. A difficult concept to wrap my own head around, so I wouldn’t expect everyone to understand where I’m coming from. I remember this poem I wrote that my poetry crew named ‘I wanna’ because in it I spoke on all the things I never got a chance to do but wanted to if I ever got out of here. In that poem there’s a line that went…
“I wanna attend my own funeral to see if people really loved me or if they were just happy to be rid of me.”
You see, I know my incarceration bears a burden on those who love me, both emotionally and financially. Loving someone in jail is hard. Having had your first born son spend his entire adult life in prison traumatizes a Mother’s soul. So does losing the life of your son and daughter at the hands of a murderer. The surviving families of those lives I am responsible for ending is a different, yet also difficult burden to bear. So its fair to say remembering me hurts.
In this life, most of us would want to be remembered for the greatest good we did, for the highest contribution we were able to make to the world around us and hopefully to the world at large. There are some who would say I have contributed great goods to the world around me despite the conditions of my environment. There are some who can speak to the man they’ve seen me grown into after coming to prison as a kid. However, I do not see through that same lense. Instead of my greatest good, I see a need to make up for my greatest bad. So for me, it wouldn’t be about ‘how’ I would be remembered, it would be not remembering me at all. And perhaps in my not remembrance, those I’ve caused a suffering and grief to, would not remember it because they could not remember me.
Yet, I’m becoming more and more aware of how its not all about me, or my perspective. Therefore, what about the memory of those lost, are not their memories inexplicably tied to the memory of me? And to not remember me is to forget them? Can’t do that. And what about my little brother? Would I sacrifice his being able to remember me? Do I even have the right to take that away from him to resolve my own spiritual dilemma’s? What about those who’ve known or loved me for all my good ways. Would I trade that in if it meant that some others wouldn’t be able to remember the bad I did against them?
I suppose this conceptualization of legacy comes from wishing I could undo what I did. A wish for the existence of a button known to live in a secret city called rewind. Yet I know going back is not real, only a day dream. Just like this twist on legacy. There is no going back, I know that, but I can still wish, I still hope for a new future. I mean, when you look at it, I’m responsible for two forms of sufferings, with my own being in the middle between those who love me for my good and those who hurt because of my bad. And perhaps, this writing is my most recent way of simply saying, “I’m sorry about it.”
Thanks for listening.
Jason B. Thompson
Categories: Jason Thompson