Last month I turned 35. 35! I don't feel like I am in my mid-30's! This means that high school graduation was half my lifetime ago-that makes me feel old! I remember when my mom was 35; I was 15. Here's a picture of my mom when she was 35.
I spent a lot of time reflecting throughout this birthday and a terrifying realization hit me. When my mom was 35, she only had about ten good years left before dementia snuck in and robbed her of living. TEN YEARS. Of course she had NO idea that her time was limited. This sad reality got me to thinking, what if I only have ten years left? What would I do differently? What are some things I want to accomplish? What kind of legacy would I want to leave behind?
While I don't want to live my life in fear, the truth is that none of us know when our time on this earth is up. We've been dealing with Mom's disease for quite a few years now and I can't help but to think about all of the things she has missed. Fortunately, my parents had their family young and Mom had a few years of being a grandma (not nearly long enough); they were able to travel to places they wanted to go. But they were just getting started. Looking back in hindsight and knowing that, at my age, Mom's good years left were numbered has served as a reminder to me that our life and our time on this earth is precious. It is a reminder to live life to the fullest each day; to not put off the things we want to do in our lives.
One of the biggest things that I think about is the legacy that I will someday leave behind for my children. What kind of person do I want them to remember me as? I am trying to set the example of service, compassion and love for them. I know I fall short in a lot of ways, but I hope that they will remember me as someone who cared deeply for others and looked to help those in need. I want them to know that I am a woman of faith, who loves the gospel of Jesus Christ. I want them to know how fiercely I love them. A couple of years ago, I started writing journals to each individual child, expressing my love, experiences with them and words of wisdom. This is something I struggle to keep up with, but if I died tomorrow, they would know very clearly (by reading my words) how I feel about them.
When someone we love leaves this world, memories are the most precious things we are left with. If I've learned anything on this journey, it is to make each moment count! Memories are what I will leave behind and I hope that they're good. Now is the time to take that trip (or, at least, start saving for it!), to work through my fears and take risks of the things I want to accomplish, to take every moment to snuggle my kids or read them a book. Life is too short to spend on negativity, to worry about what people think all the time, to hold a grudge. Tomorrow isn't guaranteed but for today, I am here so I will make the best of the time I am blessed to be alive!