What I Hope They Remember: Life is Not a Selfie

Open book with hand drawn landscape on wooden deckA few years ago, a sweet friend of mine battled breast cancer. After a Stage 4 diagnosis, I was shocked at how quickly her life slipped from us even though she fought to the bitter end. She was so convinced that she would overcome it, that even her family believed she was improving and would be released from the hospital just two days before she died.

During those last weeks with her, someone mentioned to me that I should try to get her to write a letter to each of her children. It seemed so personal a thing to request of someone, and though she was my friend, our friendship wasn’t intimate enough to where I felt like I had the right to even suggest such a thing. I mean, this woman was a fighter. And even though I brought my laptop to her bedside, I couldn’t make myself ask her. I didn’t want to do anything that might suggest she wasn’t going to make it. Even when it became apparent that she wouldn’t.

It’s one of my many regrets in life.

For months after, I thought about the letters she might have written. Her funny way of thinking about things, and her deep love for her children. I worried about what she might have wanted them to remember. Words of wisdom she would have wanted to pass on. I became so consumed with it, that I even wrote a novel about a mother who leaves her daughter letters to read as an adult. It overwhelmed me to say the least.

Because of her, I’ve given quite a bit of thought to the idea of what I’d want my children to remember about me. I’ve often considered how the day-to-day duties as a mom can become so overwhelming that we get caught in the getting-it-done mode and often forget that the window we have with our children is a small one. A fleeting one.

Yes, I want them to remember that I stood by them through everything. Yes, I want them to remember the fun things we did together. And yes, I want them to remember the many ways I tried to make their birthdays special.

But, more than anything, I want them to know this about me:

For me, they were the dream.

Though they watched me chase things in life like my design career, my writing and speaking ministry, and even being a business owner, at the end of the day, none of that mattered to me as long as at the end of the day they were there.

They were my dream come true.

The dream I had as a child to be a mother. The dream of our lives together as I held each of them for the first time. The dream of the family I’d always wanted, and prayed for my entire life.

And in a society filled with selfies, and six-second video snapshots, and 140 character tweets that only promote the best side of everyone as if they were living a perfect dream life, I saw every single side of them: the lovely, the brokenhearted, the successes, and the failures—

And they were still the dream.

lifeisnotaselfie_cutoutBecause life is not a selfie. There is not time to pose, and repose, adjusting our lives to look just so, so that we can find the precise moment of perfection and display it to the world. Life can be a mess, with heartbreak, and disappointment, and highs and lows that happen so quickly that before we know it our babies have gone from 16 months to 16 years in the blink of an eye.

It’s more of a picture that exposes slowly. A bigger picture we’ve managed to capture that is so completely, outrageously, and deeply loved that we can look back and see that it was our dream come true. And though we could never even fathom a love like that, they gave it to us without even knowing what they were doing.

So, to my beautiful Saige, and my kind Knox, and my sweet Cullen: thank you for allowing me to live my dream. To expand my heart. To learn to love.

Want to hear other stories of moms and what they hope they’re remembered for? Check out the blog hop at Proverbs 31 Speaker, Suzie Eller’s blog.

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