This past week has been a heartbreaking one for me. My courageous friend, Neta Eshel, passed away after a long battle with metastatic breast cancer. If you haven’t read it yet, please go read her interview and go get yourself tested.
As tragedy and heartbreak often do, Neta’s death has made me reflect on my life, on my mistakes and what I could have and could do differently, both professionally as an oncology nurse and as a person.
If there’s one thing that Neta has taught me it’s that while you don’t always control what life throws your way, you can control how you react to it. YOU get to write the story of your life, even if you are given certain guidelines.
There is, however, something more literal that I want to impart about writing the story of your life. Yes, your actions and the things you have done during your life are the legacy you leave behind. But let’s face it, once you die, does what you leave behind really make a difference to you? No, it doesn’t. Nonetheless, if you are at all loved and not a reclusive hermit, what you leave behind may make a world of difference to those struggling to fill the void you have left.
We all leave behind moments, but sadly, as time passes we need the tangible reminders of those moments. Without realizing it we all leave tangible reminders behind, be it pictures, recipes, artwork, journals or letters. I think that maybe we should be more cognizant of leaving meaningful things behind.
We should all be cognizant of this because, for good and for bad, we never know when our time is going to be up. For good, because it must be stressful and frightening to know you are dying. For bad, because you don’t have the time to say goodbye, and the people you leave behind don’t always have the closure they need.
Maybe the answer is writing an autobiography of sorts. An autobiography in progress, hopefully one that will have many chapters to capture the many happy and healthy years we will live. And it doesn’t have to be all words. It can be a photo album with captions. It can be a cookbook with anecdotes about the important moments in your life and the food that makes you happy. It can be a love story about how you met your spouse and started a family. It can be a reverse bucket list, listing all the things you have done in your life that you are proud of. It can be stories about your kids, your family or your friends.
Or, you can write it based on your hobbies. For instance, someone who loves books can pick their favorite books and explain what it was about those books that resonated with them and what lessons they taught them about life. Someone who loves arts & crafts can put together a tutorial of their favorite crafts. Someone who loves photography can put together a book of pictures with meaningful anecdotes or quotes. Someone who loves to travel can write a personalized travel guide.
Or like me, you can blog your thoughts. Although I’m coming to the realization that maybe even that is not enough because it’s not personal enough.
Simply put, the how is not important. What is important is to remember that whatever you choose to do, YOU get to write the story of your life. You get to, not have to, because it’s a privilege.
May we all be blessed to have the stories of our lives read by our kids, grandkids and great-grandkids whom we will have been fortunate to know and love for many years.
Do you think leaving behind the “story of your life” would make it easier for those who survive you?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by our Africa and the Middle East Regional Editor, Susie Newday of “New Day New Lesson” in Israel.
Photo credits to the author.