A very good poet whom I follow on Twitter who goes by the handle @alanlovespoetry posted the below recently:
Once I am dead
will it matter
if it was a stabbing or a stroke
does it matter
that only mom saw me graduate
that at 18
I made so many nice people cry
no math in it
it adds up exactly to nothing
not even enough for one good poem.
Before I plunge any further let me say first off that I love this poem. Second I have no idea if my Twitter "followee" is writing any grain of truth either in the events or in his philosophy (Alan, if you want to weigh in, please be my guest, if not we'll leave the mystery!). However, as a point of comparison it is excellent!
My grandmother worried about this as long as I knew her - the adding up after her death. She tried to do everything she could so that the math added to something greater than zero. I think it does, but not in the way she presented her hopes.
The sum is what is left and that is the memories the "survivors" carry with them. It may end up being transient, a generation, two, maybe three, but it does, in my mind, add up to something greater than nothing. And it does matter, each of those pieces, because each affected others to a greater or lesser extent which caused a ripple through time that would not have been there, Alan, Grandma, unless you were there.
Me as a critic (be careful! the harshness will be well concealed!)