I'm usually caught off-guard. After all, cancer is synonymous with death, yet it is not really on my radar, and nowhere near my point of fear. I don't really believe that cancer will be my demise.
But the reality that it could happen does remind me how vulnerable we all are. It also grips my fear in a different way: I want to make sure that I've lived a good life that has been upheld to the truths of who I am and what I've been trying to accomplish.
I want to write love notes to my children, in particular, to let them know that their time with me mattered. That birthing them and raising them was the cornerstone of my life. It is one of the reasons I believe I was put on this earth, to be their mother, no matter how spectacularly I failed.
What is my legacy? And how do I want my kids and the world to remember me?
I can happily admit that I've already achieved this.
I have lived a life full of integrity, especially in the face of hard choices. I am proud of my courage, emotional strength, and steadfast convictions. I have erred on the side of fairness, I have stood up for doing what's right (even when it wasn't popular), and I've been committed to recreating myself, constantly.
Oh, I have failed miserably, more times than I care to remember.
But I have also triumphed boldly. And that is how I want to be remembered, especially by my children.
They have seen me stay with their father when it was the unpopular choice, then divorce him when he could no longer provide the emotional stability that my children and I deserved. They watched as their parents formed separate lives without hurting each other, and witnessed their mother blossom while she ventured forward on her own with three small children in tow.
They packed their courage when I moved them cross-country to new lives that were not guaranteed to be like their old ones, but their trust in their mother was complete. They learned to thrive under new circumstances and challenges, and were made stronger by them.
I have finally learned how not to settle for just a "good enough" life, but have learned instead to create something great, on my terms. I have accepted my trials with grace while trying to make the best of the lessons they came to teach me (usually!). I have loved fully, I have been a loyal and steadfast partner and friend, and I've tried my best to be a better person with each new day.
My children have walked beside me as I have faced life head-on, with my head held high and my courage intact. They have already been shown the best parts of me, which means they have been given the tools to live their own lives--with our without me--with integrity, grace, humility, and grit.
I have already left my legacy, and for that, I feel at peace.