A few years ago my partner and I started to celebrate Dia De los Muertos – The Day of the Dead, the Mexican tradition to remember those who have passed on October 31st – November 2nd. We cook favorite meals and food of loved ones passed. We look at pictures. We talk about our favorite memories, the impact people (and pets) had on us, what they loved.

Over the years, the importance of this tradition has grown for us perhaps as we watch more friends and loved ones pass from the world – this year more than any other. Among the loved ones who passed last year are two talented and passionate collaborators in the fight to create jobs and opportunities in West Virginia. Amidst the great loss, I found comfort in continuing the work that they believed in – waking up another day and doing the work that was important to them.

I think about what they believed in. I find myself oddly comforted by the fact that the work they believed in had no beginning and no ending. They died fighting for decent jobs and opportunities for our communities. They died and what they believed in lived on through us. The friends and colleagues who live on can take solace in continuing forward with a shared passion that reaches back through those treasured souls who have passed. We are the stewards of their beliefs. All that we owe them is an appreciation for our days and an earnest effort to carry forward their dreams of a better world.

I wonder, what is it to wake up and work on a project that you know you won’t be around to see come to life? What is it to get up anyways and do this work? To have the dedication and passion to do it regardless of your ability to witness the fruits of it. That is beauty and love through work. It is a privilege to have had the opportunity to work alongside such a person. Today I remember them and thank them for the life that they devoted so that tomorrow would be an improvement on today regardless of whether they were here to see it.

Go, fight, win.