The news of the sudden death of Dave Goldberg (husband of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg) surprisingly rattled me a bit this week.
Maybe it was suddenness of it.
Or the tragedy of such an everyday accident (he fell while running on a treadmill and sustained fatal head trauma).
Or maybe it’s the scary way that life as we know it can change on a dime.
I’m almost 40, but I still don’t grasp the here today, gone tomorrow concept. Especially when it comes to those our hearts most cherish.
I’ll share Sheryl Sandberg’s first public response in a bit…
But the juxtaposition of another viral article making its rounds this week only serves to highlight the gift of others-focused living that seems so scarce these days.
I came across an article in the Huffington Post from a frivolous little French blogger whose ignorance made me shake my head. Bless her heart — I don’t mean to disparage another writer/blogger. Launching your work into the blogosphere takes no small amount of courage. Maybe she was trying to garner a few laughs. Let’s hope so.
Brittany Parker, author of the blog, “BritBritCherie,” published the post, “Advice for the Man Who Asks Me to Marry Him.”
In it, she criticized a policeman who proposed to his girlfriend by having his colleagues arrest her, sirens blaring, before popping the question.
And I’ll agree — not my preference.
But here’s her head-scratching response:
“Possibly, if he is a well-established film director, I would accept a proposal in this manner. It just shows that when I’m in love, I WANT TO LOOK GOOD TO THE WORLD…” (capitalization mine).
“That being said, I think the easiest thing for him to do is to write me a letter EXPLAINING IN DETAIL HOW HE WILL MAKE MY LIFE A DAILY JOY…” (I’m not making this up!) “AND ATTACH HIS … BANK STATEMENTS WHILE HE’S AT IT…” (again, my capitalization) “and then I will consider his candidacy seriously.”
A few of her readers’ comments…
- “Good luck finding your dream foot-servant. Hopefully he will read this and realize he should keep looking.”
- “Not sure you’re going to be dealing with a proposal any time soon…”
- “Dear Brittany: perhaps it will be as you wish, or not so much. In either case, be of good cheer, and just be happy that you’re loved and can love back!”
I visited her website to try to find some redeeming words to her credit, and unfortunately it’s all in French.
I was able, however, to translate her blog’s tagline, “Avant j’etais pretentieuse, aujourd’ hui je sues parfaite.”
Maybe I was too optimistic.
Translated into English, her mantra is, “Before I was pretentious, today I’m perfect.”
Unfortunately, the common denominator in Brittany’s writing is BRITTANY.
Not such a great game plan for marriage.
It’s sure not about how you look to others.
But all about how you make others feel.
I don’t know what legacy Brittany will leave for her loved ones (and hopefully a little maturity will lay the right foundation), but the legacy of Dave Goldberg will long outlive his years.
Here are his wife’s dear words…
“I met Dave nearly 20 years ago when I first moved to LA. He became my best friend…
“We had 11 truly joyful years of the deepest love, happiest marriage, and truest partnership that I could imagine… He gave me the experience of being deeply understood, truly supported and utterly loved — and I will carry that with me always…
“Dave was my rock. When I got upset, he stayed calm. When I was worried, he said it would be OK. When I wasn’t sure what to do, he figured it out…
“Dave and I did not get nearly enough time together. But as heartbroken as I am today, I am equally grateful. Even in these last few days of completely unexpected hell — the darkest and saddest of my life — I know how lucky I have been…
“If the day I walked down the aisle with Dave someone had told me this would happen — I would still have walked down that aisle…
“Because 11 years of being Dave Goldberg’s wife, and 10 years of being a parent with him is perhaps more luck and more happiness that I could have ever imagined…
“I am grateful for every memory we had…
“As we put the love of my life to rest today, we buried only his body. His spirit, his soul, his amazing ability to give is still with us… Things will never be the same — but the world is better for the years my beloved husband lived.”
Now that’s love.
And a capital “L” kind of Legacy for his friends and family.
Here are some words his friends shared at his funeral…
“Dave was my best friend, but there are countless people here who feel the same. How does this happen? Because for Dave, friendship was a verb, he invested in it, he sought it out and brought out the best in people, and he magnified it.”
Dave was “the ultimate throwback — available, tactile, real. When you had a problem, you went to Goldie.”
“Dave was a wise and generous man who helped us connect with a deeper and truer part of ourselves.”
Another friend encouraged mourners to translate Dave’s legacy into their own lives.
“Don’t go back to life as it was. Pack more loving and giving into it as Dave did and don’t sweat the small stuff.”
It reminds me of the quote, “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.”
The business of legacy-leaving doesn’t begin in our final hours.
It’s birthed in the mundane, every-day-ness of everyday.
- The choice to listen more than you speak — to really hear others…
- To let patience trump frustration — and love best the need to be right…
- To demolish judgment of others — aren’t we all in the same boat?
- To come alongside others who are hurting, scared or sad to shine some light in their shadows…
I bet the legacy Sheryl describes wasn’t made up of life-changing, monumental stuff.
But, rather, the many little ways one person shows another that they’re loved.
Her message was a wake-up call for me.
I don’t want my obit to highlight my success at the office (which Dave Goldberg had in spades). Or my work ethic, or “busyness,” or pseudo-perfect persona (see Brittany’s tagline).
I want others to say that I was real.
I want to have made a real difference.
Legacy-leaving requires the gift of you — your time, heart and presence.
And stick-to-a-tive-ness in the muck.
And staying close when your friend’s dog dies. Just to be present.
And showing up when your buddy’s cancer diagnosis drops like a brick on a random Tuesday afternoon.
And offering a hug — and holding on — cause sometimes that’s all you can do.
Basic Stand-By-Me love — right?
Also this week, my all-time favorite singer, Tracy Chapman, sang Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me” on David Letterman.
I’m telling you, it was absolute magic.
Letterman called it “heaven.”
Time is not our own.
What will you do today to make your loved ones say, “She/He stood by me. Because of [insert your name], I’ve had more love and more happiness than I could have ever imagined?”
No time like the present.
Today’s a great legacy-building day.