Bittersweet Symphony - On Leaving a Legacy

I got happy and sad news at the same time yesterday. First, a phone call revealed that my friend, Tracy, who had been bravely battling cancer for 3+ years, had passed away. Then I received a text from a previous client, who just celebrated three years of being alcohol-free, I considered the three-year timing for them both. My client chose to live in her most awakened state by ditching the drink and doing the necessary and sometimes painful work to get there. My friend Tracy worked towards living to her fullest potential while preparing for and accepting her departure, doing the necessary and sometimes painful work to get there. Thinking about these loved ones and their journey these last three years was very sobering, to say the least. 


Where will I be three years from now? Where will you go? We don't know all that is around the corner for us. What I do know is that I have never regretted ditching the drink. I wasn’t really living when I was drinking. I was existing, yes, but I was also leaving a lot of dreams on the table for myself. As I reflect on Tracy's beautiful life and passing, I remember a meme she posted so long ago that always stuck with me with a smile.


My greatest fear is not death, which is inevitable, but instead an unlived life.

Drinking alcohol was the epitome of an unlived life for me. This is coming from someone who looked like she had it all together. I had a clean house, a resume with upward mobility, happy kids, a few ½ marathon medals, a long-term marriage, great hair, and a secret alcohol problem.  


I wasn’t driving drunk and reckless. I wasn’t drinking first thing in the morning. I wasn’t physically hurting my children. But I also fell down drunk and hurt myself a time or two. I had high blood pressure and digestive issues. My mental health was tumbling into a dark place. It was getting harder and harder to hide my secret. I was becoming more and more confused and dependent on alcohol. 


When I was drinking, I was always thinking about drinking. There was no room for new thoughts and ideas. There is no room for new synapses to fire and joy to spark. This is not a nice way to live. We say alcohol is fun, but I’ve never seen anyone drink themselves into a sustained, happier state of being. We can't be happy for long when we are regularly downing a depressant.


People say they want to slip and slide into their grave, saying, “Woohoo, what a ride!” I do, too. Alcohol was sold as a life of bold empowerment and freedom, with this sort of fantastic woohoo finale. I want that. Alcohol had the opposite effect on me. It made me scared, miserable, and anxious all the time. Alcohol is the third preventable cause of death in the US, and the people that I know who died from alcohol were not having a good time. 

The greatest thing ditching the drink did for me was help me to live in alignment with my greatest good. I can sit with myself and my breath now. This is not something I could do as a drinker. Because I can do this now, I know that I can do it when my final breath comes too. I trust that when the time comes, I will be able to float peacefully to my grave with a life well lived behind me and a positive legacy to follow.  


Leaving a legacy is about the impact we have on others, the positive change we inspire, and the values we instill in the hearts and minds of those around us.

At its core, a legacy is the culmination of a life well lived—a testament to the values, beliefs, and principles that guided our actions. It is the ripple effect of our deeds, echoing through time and space and shaping the course of future generations.

Our legacy is action—a conscious effort to align our actions with our values and to live with purpose and intentionality. Leaving a legacy is not confined to the realm of the extraordinary; it is within the reach of each and every one of us.  

Let me tell you one of many magnificent and ordinary stories about my friend Tracy and her legacy right here at Ditched the Drink.

Tracy always worked in hospitality and focused mainly on helping restaurants open. With four kids to manage, this temporary, consultative type of job worked  best for her. Her dad was an Italian chef who never owned his own restaurant but worked in many of Chicago’s hot spots. When he passed away, they found a file in his documents titled Tracy’s Restaurant. It included all his secret recipes. 


Six months before Tracy was diagnosed, she made her dream come true. She bought an old house that was previously home to the local paper. She renovated it in the most beautiful way. She named her restaurant, Rosemary and Jeans, after her mom and mother-in-law. She put her dad's secret recipes on the menu, trained the chef, and opened her doors.     

Then you know what she did for me?

She added an alcohol-free menu. Here it is! 

She let me take my branding pictures at her establishment. She shared my posts. Then her mom's 85-year-old friend started sharing them too, because it's never too late to ditch the drink! She was the only person to invite me to lunch to celebrate after I shared my "1 Year Sober" Facebook announcement.

She was a really good friend to me. I will miss her consistent and most upstanding character. I was lucky to know her subtle, hilarious sense of humor and chillest vibe. She was an effortless IT girl. The most popular girl in town. Everyone's favorite person. With the greatest love story and the best family. She was modest and humble. Helpful and kind. Generous beyond measure. She taught me so much just by being who she was. I was always in awe of her. Her goodness will carry on. She didn't do these wonderful things just for me; she did them for everyone she came into contact with. I am not the only one with stories. I am one in a million.   

As we journey through life, let us strive to leave behind a legacy worthy of remembrance—a legacy of love, compassion, and kindness that echoes through the ages. In doing so, we ensure that our presence is felt long after we are gone and that our spirit lives on in the hearts of those we leave behind.

Where do you want to be in 6 months? Three years? At the end of your life,? Are your current actions and behaviors going to get you there? Could a life coach help you actually live your life instead of merely existing? Could a life coach help you determine what really matters to you and then start taking action on your purpose? Do you know what your values are? If you are not careful, you could end up in the direction you are heading. Transformation is possible, and coaching support is often the ticket to getting unstuck. Book Your Free Call.

More blogs about grief and remembrance:

Alcohol Took the Nicest Girl in the Senior Class and My Heart is Broken

Coping With Grief Without Alcohol

I Was Drunk When My Friend Died

Silver Linings of Grief

Tortured Life

My Grandma Alvina


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