My good friend said, "What matters is what we choose to give to the world, and what we leave behind. That's why people have kids, have careers, write novels, paint pictures. We become what we leave behind." I love her and I admire her.
What happens to a person as we conceive a person to be after they die is a matter of faith and belief. Matter remains, but the person is gone. If I don't believe in God or gods, an after-life, and this is my one and only life; then when I am gone, I am gone forever.
And yet our choices and therefore lives are endless, cycling reverberations. After we are gone, the reverberations continue in the conscious lives of people who we loved and who cared about us. The reverberations continue in our abandoned edifices, our emotional and physical landfills, in our waters and in our air. The after-life is real to the living of this life, in memories and minds, and in the world we inhabit.
While I'm here I can choose how I spend my time, how I treat other people, and how I treat the planet.
Perhaps it matters what we choose not to leave behind, the very act of defiance a message of love.