Leave Love Behind

How do we want people to remember us after we have departed from this world? Personally, I want to leave a legacy of love, grace, and mercy. On March 8, 2018, my brother James Miller passed away. James had a progressive paralysis disease since birth and was not projected to live past 17. However, due to the unwavering support of the South Miami Hospital staff, he lived until 56. I will always have a special place in my heart for each and every person there that made James’ life brighter.

What I did not realize until reflecting after James’ memorial service was how instrumental James was in developing the traits of patience, gratitude, mercy, and unconditional love in me. Many spoke about James and the impact he had on their lives during the memorial service. And the common thread was how much he taught and supported them. Whether it was guiding a new nurse through a procedure or lending an empathetic ear to one of his visitors, James had the ability to uplift, encourage, and spread love to anyone that came into contact with him. I want you to stop and think about this. Someone who could only move their head, was confined to the same hospital bed for 30+ years, and could not use his vocal cords was able to leave a legacy of love.

It is no coincidence that James passed away on March 8, or International Women’s Day as James was a huge advocate for women. He believed in equality for women and urged many of the women he came into contact with to shoot for the stars when it came to their dreams. What I realized is that on my journey to achieve my dreams, I carried many of James’ lessons with me. The patience, poise, and persistence I displayed on the basketball court at the collegiate and professional levels were instilled in me, to a large part, by James. Even though I was thousands of miles away, James was always with me.

So what can we all learn from James? To be grateful for every second of our time and realize that EVERYTHING we do leaves a mark on the world. We have a choice regarding how we respond to our circumstances. We have a choice whether we are love or fear or ambivalence or hate. Notice I said we are love, not we give love. If we identify ourselves as love, every interaction we have becomes about responding through love. Love is no longer a trait, it is the essence of who we are. I cannot be more grateful to James for showing me that. RIP James. You are love and you are loved.