Cassandra Beth Montemurro Cassie on a rocking horse; Thanksgiving '97

Cassie's Legacy

What can we learn from Cassie? With what does she leave us? This excerpt from an essay by Maya Angelou called "Death and the Legacy" speaks about the art of living a good life.

"When I think of death, and of late the idea has come with alarming frequency, I seem at peace with the idea that a day will dawn when I will no longer be among those living in this valley of strange humors. I can accept the idea of my own demise, but I am unable to accept the death of anyone else. I find it impossible to let a friend or relative go into that country of no return. Disbelief becomes my close companion, and anger follows in its wake.

"When I sense myself filling with rage at the absence of a beloved, I try as soon as possible to remember that my concerns and questions, my efforts and answers should be focused on what I did or can learn from my departed love. What legacy was left which can help me in the art of living a good life? "

Cassie led a good life. There is no doubt that for all of her fourteen years she was loved, and she was loving. This loving-kindness was so much a part of Cassie’s nature that friends could easily notice it. Cassie’s four-year-old cousin Katie could tell that Cassie was, above all else, kind. Recently, on the telephone, Katie said that she was sorry that Cassie had died. Katie complimented Cassie, saying that “Cassie even played in the sandbox with Kyle and me.” That was the kind of big kid Cassie was -- the kind of person who would play with two little kids in the sandbox.

But Cassie was so much more than simply a kind person who would play with two little children. Cassie’s own friends and acquaintances knew that Cassie’s kindness and friendliness, joined together with her keen intelligence and her sharp sense of humor, made for a subtle yet powerful personality.

One of Cassie’s classmates wrote about her during Mrs. Smith’s English class. Mrs. Smith allowed her students, Cassie’s classmates, to express themselves to Cassie.

"I may not show it all that much but I really cherish your friendship and I don’t want to lose it over anything in the world. You are a very nice person with a lot ahead of yourself so as bad as you may feel and as lonely as you may feel just remember that you have a friend or 21 that are praying for you to be Cassie again. The one that loves to play soccer and jump around and be happy all the time. That’s Cassie. That’s the girl that I was always looking up to because of your honesty and your integrity and your ability to be sweet and smart and calm all the time."

Cassie had great enthusiasm for life and ongoing respect for others. She loved to learn, especially through reading, writing, and literature. Cassie’s legacy is the good life of kindness, intelligence, and inspiration. Though she is missed, she reminds us of the art of living the good life.

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