Looking Back and Paying It Forward
If there ever was a day to reflect about your life, your purpose, your mortality--it's today 9/11. And more reason for me personally to ponder how precious life is-- I recently had one of those near-death experiences that shake you to your very core. Long story short: A pickup truck was speeding towards me--head-on--in the wrong lane, going the wrong direction. With cars on both sides of me and little time to react all I could do was brace myself in the split seconds I might have had left.
But it wasn't anything like I read or heard about, where your life flashes before your eyes. No, in those heart-pounding seconds, all I could think was
Thank GOD the kids are not in the car.
After I got home, safe and sound and feeling lucky, I looked back on those slow-motion moments of terror and instead of fear, I felt relief that the kids were home with dad playing in the backyard.
And then it hit me: The Letter.
When my kiddos were still babies, I did something a bit morbid but very comforting. I left a letter for them in their baby books. A just-in-case letter, should something terrible happen to me suddenly and I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. My biggest worry was, what if something happened to me before they were old enough to form lasting memories? So I wrote them a sweet, short note (sure) telling them how much I love them—but much more important—how much they loved ME. I would never want my children to grow up thinking, “I never had a chance to tell my mom I loved her.” So, I let them know how their first sentences (the both of them) was I LOVE YOU and how many times they’ve helped me/hugged me/held me in their short little lives and if I should die, to never feel sad or haunted or cheated. I just pray they never have to read it.
So with these thoughts heavy on my mind, I read something yesterday that had me weeping all night.
Lori is a single mom battling ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and chronic Lyme disease. She faces the loss of her home to foreclosure within days because she's too sick to work. She has medical bills totaling more than $50,000, which may ultimately reach $120,000.
Ironically, earlier this summer an essay Lori wrote about her young son Jack coming to terms with the idea of death was finally published in the Washington Post. Though the essay was written well before Lori was diagnosed, or even knew that she was ill, there's a bittersweet sense of urgency in her writing that adds a poignant postscript to the piece. In her essay, Lori struggled to reassure her son that she'll always be there to protect him. "I tell him I'll always be here for him, one way or another. Always always always. Just like my mother is here for me. Just like I was there when he was 3. It is an impossible promise, a gamble with his trust. I secretly pray I don't let him down, not on this."
If you visit the site, there’s a donate button and more information. Read Lori’s Washington Post essay first. As a parent, you’ll feel as I do the pressing need to help out —anyway you can. On this day—or any day, really—please remember the power of paying it forward.
September 11, 2008 11:14 AM Eastern
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