Grief is like a flash flood. It rushes in unexpectedly and often changes the landscape of my day. As the woman at the counter slid me a receipt to sign for my oil change, she asked, “Was Jack your dad?” I stared at her for a moment.


Tears formed.

“Was” lingered.

“Yes” was all I could say. I put on my sunglasses as she expressed her condolences. I grinned and muttered “thank you” as I walked to the door. By the time I opened my car door tears were flowing…flooding.


There are a lot of firsts that happen after someone passes. That was my first “was.”

I got on the freeway and couldn’t help but allow my thoughts to be redirected. “Was” triggered me deeply, not just about my dad’s passing but about my own existence. One day I will be a “was.”  One day all that will be left is my impact. How did I make a difference? Did I matter?

Perhaps many of us find ourselves pondering the same questions:  Do I matter? Even to one person, do I matter? Does my life matter? Will I have mattered to anyone when I too transition to being a “was?”

And for those of us that feel the desire to help others, heal others, inspire others, prepare others, impact others—Are we actively doing today what will be our legacy tomorrow? Because our “was” can start at any moment. At any given moment we could be here and the next moment we’re not (well, physically anyway).

What if our legacy isn’t about what we leave behind but more about what we are now? Now!

We are here now. We are an “is” now. Impact happens in moments.

Our impact IS happening now.

I know my dad had tremendous impact. He didn’t want to be famous or be the top dog. He liked being an every day man who helped every day people. It was standing room only at my dad’s Celebration of Life because, as my brother Ken illuminated, dad had impact. Dad’s life impacted others by way of direct and indirect impact.

Perhaps next time when someone asked me, “Was Jack your dad?” I will be a bit further down the grief road and I will be able to answer with fewer tears and more cheers and proclaim, “Yes! Yes, he was.”

I wonder how amazing the world would be if we shifted the landscape of our day by asking ourselves this one simple question every morning:

What IS my impact today?

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