Leaving a Legacy

Like so many of my friends who live in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, I am deeply saddened by the news of Kidd Kraddick's sudden death. It seems that many of us have used social media as an outlet to express our shock and grief. I posted this on Facebook yesterday. Obviously, I needed more than 140 characters to express my thoughts:

I'm still in shock and searching for words...

So many of my DFW friends' hearts are hurting at the horrible news of Kidd Kraddick's sudden death. Ironically, I listened to the "deathbed confessions" of Kidd and the gang last week. For a fleeting moment I thought, What if one of them dies in the near future? Will these be so funny? Honestly, they made me uncomfortable, but I quickly brushed the feeling away and went on laughing while I drove to teach.

So when I read the news via FB and Twitter last night, I immediately thought it was a tasteless hoax. But that was not Kidd's style. Even though I never met him personally, I felt like he was my friend; he cheered me up and entertained me as I drove to work each morning. But he also made my mascara run on countless mornings because of his beautiful heart, so evident through his Kidd's Kids charity, Kiss-mas Wish, and his obvious love of humanity.

It often takes tragedy for us to remember the inevitable truth...life is precious. So for those of us with heavy hearts--mourning the loss of not just a morning DJ but a stellar human being, praying for his family and friends--let's honor the legacy of Kidd Kraddick by embracing kindness, generosity, and laughter. After listening to him for most of my adult life, I know that's what he would want us all to do.

"Keep looking up, 'cause that's where it all is..."

When I woke up on this Monday morning, I went immediately to the KISS FM website so that I could listen to Kellie, Big Al, J-Si, Jenna, and Shannon talk about their leader, mentor, and dear friend. Their chokey voices, sobs, and heartfelt words about what Kidd meant to each of them and how they spent their final days with him--they were so raw--so REAL. I kept waiting for Kidd's voice to chime in with the funny zinger that would lighten the mood because it was so sad--so heavy. That's when it hit me--we will never hear his voice live on the radio again. And that's when my tears came--in waterfalls down my face.

Why did I spend the majority of my Monday morning crying over a radio DJ that I've never met personally? Because, like so many of his fans, I felt like I did know him. In a crazy radio way, he WAS my friend. His voice helped me make the transition from manic morning mom to determined educator as I drove to work each day. His funny stories helped me to forget my stress for my 12 minute commute to work--to make me laugh out loud, which is such a gift on mundane morning--before I walked into a building full of kids who demanded my attention.  I would often sit in the parking lot of school until the last possible minute so that I could hear the conclusion of the hilarious bit that Kidd had created or to wipe away the mascara trail that ran down my face caused by some touching moment that usually involved kids. I often went straight to my computer and tuned into the show at my desk so that I could continue listening. Many a mornings I secretly wished for traffic and a longer commute so that I could hear more from Kidd and the crew. Ironically, my sister and I were talking about the KKITM show on Friday--before all of this happened. Katy said, "I think of them as my friends. I love them like my friends. Is that weird?" After the tragedy of this weekend, I think it's obvious that Kate is not alone in her feelings. For all of us loyal listeners, Kidd Kraddick was more than a voice on the radio--he was our friend.

In all of the posts about Kidd, one word keeps popping out at me--LEGACY. I think it catches my attention because it is one of my favorite words--not just because of the way it rolls off my tongue (say it aloud right now--LEGACY--doesn't it just feel good to say it?)--but because of what it means. A legacy is what we leave behind after we exit the earth. It's what we will be remembered for; it's the mark we will leave, making something (or someone) better than when we first found them. So many people think that a legacy is tangible--money, property, things--NO. So many people think that you have to be wealthy or a celebrity to leave behind a legacy--a song, a movie, a piece of art--NO. The truth is that we all will leave a legacy.

It seems that Kidd's legacy is cemented in the fact that he was a popular radio DJ, so he will be best remembered for his radio voice and the laughs that he gave all of us. But really the legacy that he leaves is in the charity that he started, Kidd's Kids, which raises money to take terminally and chronically ill children and their families on a dream trip to Walt Disney World each November. I think this is why so many of us are so devastated by Kidd's death; it's because we lost more than a radio personality who made us laugh on the way to work; it's because the world lost an amazing human being. And I just have to note what Kellie Rasberry posted on FB last night about Kidd. I knew it was true, and as a Christian it gave me such peace: "I am so grateful for my faith and the knowledge that I will fuss at that man in Heaven again some day." 

We don't all have the means to start a charity like Kidd's Kids. But we all have the means to live lives full of compassion, kindness, and love. Kidd's sphere of influence was wide, and that's where so many people mistake the meaning of legacy. We think that we have to impact many people to leave a true legacy. But that's not the case. If we each focus on our own little corner of the universe--on our homes, our families, our friends, our workplace--and we each give our energy to creating positive moments in those places--think of how we can change the world. Think of the legacy that each of us will leave behind. Your legacy doesn't have to be deep and wide to make an impact; it just has to be positive and purposeful.

So I will mourn the loss of Kidd and not be ashamed because I never met him. I will pray for God's loving arms of peace and comfort to envelop his friends and family as they go through these difficult days. And I will pray that we can all learn something from this--that we will take the goodness that we saw in Kidd Kraddick--his kindness, his compassion, his sense of humor, his love of all people--and we will vow to let that shine in our own lives. That those things that we loved the most about Kidd will live on through us.

Because that's what leaving a legacy is all about.

"To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition, to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”  --Ralph Waldo Emerson


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