The Legacy of Leaves

leaves falling

Approaching the second anniversary of my sister’s passing has been extremely difficult. She was my only sibling and best friend in the world. Living without her is a daily struggle.

Being an author was her unfulfilled vocational goal until her passing. As a supportive family we encouraged her for 50 years to “write a book, share your words and talent through a story.” But she chose to run and operate her own business, taking care of dogs, which was her second passion behind writing.

During the many months of cancer treatment she often experienced unspeakable insomnia, days upon days of sleepless nights. This is where she put pen to paper and produced beautiful poems, and ultimately a book of her battle with cancer.

Shelly’s favorite season was autumn, and she appreciated her surroundings in nature daily. The following is one of her beautiful poems.

By Shelly Lynn Bartholomew

Today as I lie on my bed looking out the window, I took notice of the beautiful maple trees in my front yard.
The leaves were gracefully falling as they do each autumn.
They floated off in different directions before landing on the ground in their final resting place.
I watched them glide by my window.
They were all uniquely individual.
Some of them were full of vibrant and vivid colors with perfectly shaped borders.
Others were cracked with irregular edges.
As I watched the leaves fall, it reminded me of people.
Some people are perfectly “put together” on the outside.
They draw the attention of their peers because of their outward beauty.
Others may not feel as attractive, and perhaps they receive a second glance because of an imperfection.
After more thought, my mind drifted toward people who have lost their self-esteem due to cancer.
Maybe they are bald.
Perhaps a woman has lost her femininity to a mastectomy.
We are really all like falling leaves.
It is not what we look like on the outside, but what we have in our hearts that makes us beautiful.
Just like the leaves, we will all have a final resting place.
It is how we live our lives that will determine our legacy.

Much like “Leaves” depicts, we are all “different, damaged and putting on our best face” for others. I learned this in recovery. Today I try to practice being real and not feeling the requirement of perfection in order to be accepted and fit in. It is not an easy feat after many years of wearing my mask.

I have learned that imperfection is a gift and provides me with daily opportunities to learn and grow. Being “real” sets an example and encourages others in my life to reflect their true self back to me. I experience genuine relationships as a result.

My sister and her words continue to encourage me. She lives on through her writing, leaving me and others with a legacy of hope. Thank you, Shelly!

Contributed by a leader at Celebrate Recovery on the Plateau.

Celebrate Recovery on the Plateau is a Christ-centered recovery program designed to help people with their hurts, habits and hang-ups. We are a ministry of Pine Lake Covenant Church, Sammamish, WA.

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