Memorial Day weekend my family learned my aunt was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She posed for this picture after she proudly signed the papers to stop all treatment and go home to peacefully transition to the afterlife. One day later, the doctors sent her home, giving her 1-6 months to live.
I remember sitting in her hospital room at Mt. Sinai hospital talking with her about treatment options. As I looked over her, I was somewhat intrigued—her hair and makeup was done, and she was lying down in a beautiful long red robe that fit her frame pretty nicely.
So I said, “Well auntie you’re really looking good. You’re dolled up in hair and makeup—I mean you don’t look sick.” Her quick-witted response, “Candy just because I’m dying it doesn’t mean I have to look terrible. I know my God. I know where I am going. And I am ready.”
That one sentence summed up how she lived her life, and how I would live my life from that day forward.
No matter how you feel, get up, get dressed and show up for your life.
No matter what you’re faced with take responsibility for how you respond.
Because here’s the thing, it’s easy to “say you have faith,” get dressed and look good while things are going according to your plan. But what about when Gods plan looks different? What about when Gods plan supersedes your plan? And ‘his’ plan is filled with unbearable pain, suffering and endless nights of not knowing what’s next? Well I’ll share a bit of Elizabeth Johnson’s legacy. Throughout my life, I’ve never seen my aunt fall off her A-game. And her rules didn’t change one bit even when she was facing death.
During her last month on this earth, I could see in her eyes she was in unbearable pain. But during each visit, she greeted me with a smile, laughed at my jokes and never complained about her fate.
Every day her strength weakened and her pain increased, but she made sure she was dressed in a different colored robe and headscarf, she walked to the bathroom, fed herself (until her last days) and would even do some upper body exercises to maintain the strength in her arms.
The last two weeks she was very weak and could barely speak, but any chance she got she told the family she was ready for her next chapter.
She passed away on July 1st. But her legacy lives on. How she found the courage and strength to look beyond her circumstances is a mystery for me—I cue up God.
But her death reminded me that real success is about your impact or influence on others. It’s about creating a legacy that will outlive you. It’s about living on your own terms.
Her death also reminded me that Gods plan and his healing ways have nothing to do with our plans. All we need to do is show up and do our part.
On a daily basis, I encourage you to work on your legacy. Because death is inevitable.
And at the end of your days, no one will care about the size of your house.
No one will care about the kind of car you drove.
And no one will care how many Facebook or Instagram likes you got.
So, do work that matters and write your own story.
Oh and no matter what—“Get up, Get Dressed and Show Up” for your life—every minute of it.