After putting the kids to bed, making tomorrow’s lunches, putting away the laundry, and picking up errant toys, I sat down to ruminate over this month’s blog post. Should it be the awesome fall walk the kids and I took, collecting a massive amount of acorns along the way? The mobile we made out of colorful fall leaves? Our family portrait session with the autumn foliage in the background? The ton of zucchini bread we made from our garden and froze for later months?
Then my phone rang.
It was my husband, calling on his way home from basketball.
To let me know he’d be late.
He hit a deer.
The antlers came through the windshield.
There’s glass all over the car.
I admit it, I’m scared. My dad died in an accident when I was very young and it is a constant, unhealthy fear that either Ben or I will die before our kids are grown. My hands are shaking as I type this, though I know people hit deer all the time. People are in car crashes all the time. But what if this had been it?
Did he tell the kids he loved them before he left? Did he give them kisses? Would they remember if he had? Is there enough of him, of his personality, in the house that they could keep some part of him in their hearts for the rest of their lives?
Because, there wasn’t for me.
My mother remarried not too long after my father died, in part because it was a time when it was very difficult to be a single mother, and in part because she wanted the stability of a family. And not long after that, our family moved. No photos of my father were put up in the new house; no stories or tidbits of him were told. In trying to make our new family one, my father was left out. I knew very little of him and always felt it. Even having a stepfather, I felt like I was missing something everyone else had.
I don’t want that to happen to my kids. Granted, I’d prefer I not die first, but if I do, or if my husband does, I want them to know us as best they can. I want them to know that we would be proud of them, that we would support their choices, that we would cheer at all their games and matches and recitals, that we would beam at their engagements and cry at their weddings, that we would continue to hang all their accomplishments on the fridge just like we do now.
The question is, how can we do that? How can we prepare to not be here for the rest of a lifetime? How can our kids know 30 years after we’re gone that we really would be proud? I wish I knew.
This post was written by Penney Blakely. Contact Penney at email@example.com
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