Leaving a Legacy Through Writing Letters to My Children
My Friend's Son Was an Inspiration
Recently someone that I used to work with died of cancer. I didn't even know she had been dealing with cancer. We were friends on Facebook but hadn't seen each other in person in years. I was shocked and sad to read that she had died, especially because she was just a few years older than I am.
But what hit me the hardest was reading her son's post on my friend's Facebook page. She had gotten divorced when her son was very young. The divorce was not her choice, and I remember she was very bitter about her ex-husband but was devoted to her son. Her son is now in his mid-thirties with a family of his own. What he wrote on her Facebook page brought tears to my eyes. He wrote it in a letter to her. A letter she will never read. I certainly hope he shared these thoughts with her before she died. He wrote about how hard she worked to provide him a roof over their heads, first in an apartment and eventually saving enough money to purchase a house for them. He talked about the sacrifices she made for him and how she was the strongest woman he has ever known.
His words made me feel so lonely for him. She was his support system. She was his cheerleader. She was maybe the one person in his life that loved him unconditionally. And now she is gone. I started to think about my children. What if something happened to me? Maybe I would have time to share things with them that I wanted to say. Maybe not though. Maybe I will get hit by a car someday. Maybe I will have a second heart attack and be gone in a split second. And then I will not be around to share their joys and sadness. I will not be around to give them advice. And so my wheels started turning.
Writing Letters to My Children
I decided that I will start writing letters to my children. At the time of this writing, my children are 24 and 21 (twins). They live in different states than I do. Although I talk to them a few times per week, I only see them once or twice a year. They are not at the stage where they will probably enjoy taking the time to sit down and read letters from their mother. They will maybe think I am silly, and how much easier it would be to text or send them an instant message on Facebook. But I want them to have these letters in their hands. I want it to be something they can go back and read forever. Things on the internet could change. They may close their Facebook page someday and not have those instant messages anymore. They may drop their cell phone in a pool and not be able to get the messages back. And when I am gone, they will be gone.
My grandmother died when I was twenty. We were very close, and although she had cancer and I knew she wouldn't be around forever, it was still a shock when she died. When I was in college, she used to write letters to me. For ten years after she died, whenever I would read those letters, I would cry because I could feel her love for me in those letters, and be overwhelmed not only by how much she loved me, but tears of sadness ran down my cheeks from missing her. While I don't wish sadness on my children, I do wish for them the feeling of knowing they were loved unconditionally by their mom.
And so I bought three 500 page notebooks. I am writing letters to them in these notebooks and making a copy of each letter which I send to them now, present day. BUT all of the letters are staying intact in these notebooks. Some of the letters I write may not be sent to them in present-day time. They may be something I only want them to read after I am gone. But these notebooks will be a tangible way for them to keep my memory and love for them alive.
I am writing to them about their growing up years....how hard I tried to be a good mom....some of the mistakes I made....some of the special memories we made together that they may have forgotten about. And of course, I will write about how special each one of them was and are to me.
If something does happen to me, they will have all of these letters to them that they can keep and re-read forever. I hope that after I am gone these notebooks will be something they treasure and share with their children someday.
What's Your Legacy
Are You Leaving a Legacy for Your Children Through Letters?
© 2016 Karen Hellier