“When I woke up this morning, I noticed I had an email from my mom. Usually, those entail some kind of funny joke or forwarded message, but this time, she needed some information. Specifically, my kids’ social security numbers so that she can set up accounts for them to be ‘transferable upon (her) death.’
I almost didn’t answer her, mostly because I really don’t like what she’s insinuating. I didn’t like her email tone or the idea that she might be preparing to die. It’s certainly not ok with me, nor will I play along and entertain that thought. There will be no dying here. It just isn’t acceptable. I am not ready to say goodbye. Not now, and not ever.
I was so appalled by this, I exclaimed to a friend of mine in my best disbelieving-laced voice, ‘Can you believe her?,’ to which they responded, ‘There’s nothing wrong with her doing that.’ After I promptly deleted and blocked my friend from my phone and every piece of social media for taking her side in this ridiculous game, I took a deep breath and talked myself into thinking about it with at least one, random rational thought. And maybe they were right. Maybe there is nothing wrong with her preparing for something that will happen, in my eyes, in the next 100 years.
I’ll be honest. As much as I don’t want my mom to do it, I had to do it, too. At 43. At some point after my young husband died, it dawned on me that if something happened to me too, my daughter would be left an orphan, and somebody other than me or her dad would be deciding who she lived with. Somebody else would be deciding who loved her every day, who made sure she was eating, who would be chasing her around to do homework and who would have to chase the boys away from her. Somebody else would be deciding what her moral foundation would be, what kind of television shows she would watch, and deciding what she would be allowed to wear. Somebody else would be helping her to figure out her life goals and how to achieve them, and somebody else would be consoling her as she figured out how to get through life.
I didn’t just want anybody to help her do that. I wanted to pick the person. I wanted to make sure that whoever was going to be her biggest influence represented the plans my husband and I had for her when she was born. Because we had plans, you know. Big ones. We wanted her raised a certain way and now that he’s gone, I have an obligation to him, and to her, to make sure those plans stay in place.
I thought I would be scared, but I was mostly determined. I googled an online form company, read through the instructions and got right down to business. I knew who I was going to choose to be her guardian, it was a no-brainer that she would go to live with her brother, or of course, one of the 20 alternates I listed. Nobody can say I’m not over-prepared, right? I must get it from my mother.
Anyway, as I was filling that all out, I noticed there were spots for other things. Like, actual belongings. Look, I don’t have a lot of ‘things,’ but the few things I do have, I listed and noted who should inherit them, and what my wishes were for me after I died. Because guess what? I didn’t know what my husband wanted. It wasn’t a conversation we had in our 30s, and I certainly wasn’t going to ask him after he was diagnosed with cancer. I know many, many people who think I should have, but asking the person you love what they want done with their body after being diagnosed with a terminal illness while you’re trying to hold out hope is a sickening idea. I wish we already knew before he was diagnosed. I really do. But we didn’t, and it just wasn’t something I wanted to talk about. And after he died, it was his mom who decided where he would be buried. I guess they had the conversation. And for me, that was better. Call me selfish. Call me a coward. But I just couldn’t do it because I was afraid that if I brought it up, he would think I had given up hope that he would survive, and that was not something I wanted to do to him, nor was it something I thought I could handle.
So, because of that, and because of my desire to have my daughter protected, I made a Will. A very easy, very basic Will. When I was done, I put it in the safe, closed it up and decided not to think about it again. But, I know it’s there. I know my wishes are laid out. I know my children will not be faced with having to make those decisions on their own. And I am thankful for that.
I often encourage you to love each other before it’s too late. I am screaming from the rooftops to forgive quickly and love hard. After losing my husband so suddenly to pancreatic cancer, I tell people all the time to not waste time and to walk right over to the person you love and hug them and then hug them again. I do this because you do not want to regret wasting those moments. And, now, I am encouraging you to do this. Right now. Right now, when you are young and healthy and have the world at your feet. Have the conversation. Make the decisions. Set up the accounts. Be prepared for the unexpected and then go live your life and love like you’re going to live forever – like my mom.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Diana Register of Meridian, Idaho. Her book “Grief Life” is available in print and kindle. You can find more of her books here, and her podcast here. Connect with Diana on her author Facebook page, and Instagram.
Read more touching stories from Diana:
‘I started using wrinkle cream. I turned up Barbara Streisand and sang along. I asked the pedicure lady to scrub a little harder on the heel. Then it hit me. I have become my MOTHER.’
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