An alum from the class of 2006 died recently. He was only 26. I remember him as a very bright student, always smiling and singing, a bit mischievous, a sweet kid. His cheerful, good-natured attitude was impressive because he suffered a lot in his short lifetime (much of that suffering I didn't know about until after he left Marshall--I'm sure there's more I don't know about even now, and more that I may never know of).
I do know that he and his two siblings had to deal with painful and challenging situations that most people can't even imagine. In spite of all their difficulties, however, they never, as far as I can remember, ever spoke a bitter or unkind word.
--Quite the opposite. All three of them were artists, involved in music, drama, and the visual arts. All three of them made Marshall and the world around them a more beautiful place with their photography, music, and acting. Even though their Marshall years were fraught with deep, personal pain, they left a beautiful and inspiring legacy behind them.
You never know how life will turn out, for you or the others around you, but you can think about the kind of legacy you want to leave behind--and it's never too early to start creating it. You should be thinking these days about how you want to be remembered…because you will be remembered, one way or another… Do your best to make sure you will be remembered with pleasure and pride. (If you don't like the legacy you've created thus far, it's not too late to change it: the way you conduct yourself in your final days at Marshall can do much to alter the way people think of you in the future).
The young man I've been thinking about so much this week was a member of Marshall's ToppSix singing group, and here's a link to a recording of one his and his fellow group members' favorite songs. His voice is the lowest one, there at the bottom of the musical register, holding them all together in lovely harmony. Please listen to it and think about what you might leave behind... [Update: if that link doesn't work, try this one.]
April Blizzard, A Haiku Sequence
Caught in the wind, swirl-
ing in snow, his bright eyes, his
clear voice remembered.
Splinters of song, quirked
eyebrows, slivers of sly smirk,
carried on the wind.
Let each April snow-
storm send us echoes of his
singing on its wind.
singing on its wind.
--in memory of JME
(Thanks to Sam Bolen, from the class of 2006, for access to the recording.)