We each cast a physical shadow, an impression of who we are, formed by the sun above and cast onto the earth below. When the sun is near the horizon, those shadows are lengthy. At mid-day when the sun is high above us, those shadows are directly below us, barely visible. But they are there, and they mark our presence.
And perhaps we cast a spiritual shadow here on earth when we have passed to the Otherworld — but not in the negative sense, but more as an imprint of for what we stood, the mark we made on the world, what we shared, and the vibration of our physical presence that will be sensed by others after we’ve gone.
Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched in some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there. - Ray Bradbury, in "Fahrenheit 451"
I first read this quote from Ray Bradbury, from his book Fahrenheit 451, as a teenager, studying it in high school literature class. It moved me then, as a teen already sensing the shadows of those who came before me and wondering how I too might leave something behind to be remembered.
As an adult, after experiencing loss and transition of my loved ones, my parents, I knew that they were there…. and still are here, in the telling of stories that they had shared; in the advice they had given; in the love they had offered; in their faces seen in their children, grandchildren, and great grandchild; in experiences and memories we had shared; and in their positive and joyful view of the world.
And now, as a crone, I hope that when it is my time to transition, that I too am leaving something behind so that people I know and love will know that I’m still there… and still here. Perhaps my love of the Earth, for preserving and protecting her, so that we all have clean water and good food. Perhaps my belief that we are all equal, all family, and not just with humankind but with plants, animals, trees, soil, rocks, air, oceans and inland waters.