Every year I, Mitch’s sister, write a tribute on the anniversary of my brother’s death, today is the 12th year he’s lived in heaven. With the power of the internet I’m able to share my thoughts regarding my family’s loss. It is a loss, my brother died, only to be reborn in heaven because he knew Jesus as his personal savior; however, we deeply miss his earthly presence, laughter, companionship, and hugs. People may wonder, do you remember that moment when you received the news? Yes, of course…every painful detail is forever etched into my brain, but not my heart. Only the sweet memories of my brother are carefully protected there.
As I think about what memory to share this year…my thoughts keep pointing to one word, LEGACY. What is Legacy? After asking our beloved ‘goggle’ for an answer, the vast replies surprised me: it’s a gift or bequest that is handed down, endowed from one person to another; money or property left to someone in a will; something handed down from one person from one period of time to another period of time. Legacies can be good and bad. One search answer I was drawn to the most read, “It’s about learning from the past, living in the present, and building for the future.”
When it all comes down to it, we all will perish one day, whether you want to think about it or not is your choice, I choose to think about my final days now. In preparing to do that, I ask myself what am I doing daily, weekly, yearly that will allow me to ‘build a better future’ for those who outlive me. Then I think about my brother, did he ever sit and wonder about his legacy? Did he dream about a wife, kids, growing old and what his life would hold?
If you knew my brother he lived each day to its’ fullest, he went back to old friends and made his wrong- doings right, he extended a helping hand whenever asked, he showed amazing compassion to everyone he met. He may have not known what he was doing, or that at 23 years of age he’d take his last breath jumping into a river, but I do believe each day he lived, he was leaving behind a spirit of legacy for us to follow. Because of my brother’s servant attitude and example, my family and I have been able to share Mitch’s same compassion with thousands. Did we know 12 years ago that we’d be carrying on Mitch’s legacy by serving others? No. Did I see myself meeting strangers weekly in a food bank? No. Did we dream that we could be Mitch’s voice and rally hundreds to join our cause year round? No. But that’s what has happened…
People ask me weekly, ‘how did all this start (speaking of Mitchell Swaback Charities/Harvest Compassion Center)?’ Well, I usually give them the short answer in hopes of avoiding a few tears…and the short answer is, “it started because of my brother Mitch, we chose to follow his lead, his heart and his passion … and only by the grace of God are we here today loving some many.”
This year, I’ve thought a lot about my legacy. My brother, without knowing, showed me mine. I vow to continue to be brave as the Lord continues to stretch, use, and push me to build a legacy worth leaving behind. I tell my kids you won’t know until you try, so today I vow to continue to always try. Failures and disappointments will come, but so do blessings!
I encourage everyone to sit and reflect on your own legacy today…if you were to leave this earth tomorrow, what are you leaving behind for those you love, for those who don’t even know you and for those you most cherish.
Thank you Mitch for planting seeds in my heart that over the past 12 years have started to blossom…