I'm writing this list because now is as good a time as any. That being said, I do think about what you will remember when I'm gone.
I wouldn’t say I’ve been suicidal in the clinical sense of having “a plan,” but I’ve certainly entertained the thought of death. And in my darkest moments—not just once, but still—the only reason I can think of to not run away or run my car into a ditch, the only reason I can think of to stay alive is to not hurt the people that love me. When I start to think about you growing up without a mommy, I know that I have to be in that picture. That is my “reason for living” in the most morbid and inspirational senses of the phrase.
Death is something that my mind spirals to on a daily basis surrounding me in a bizzard of What Ifs. What if I get in a car accident? What if I get cancer? What if there’s an earthquake or a tsunami or a zombie apocalypse? What if something happened to you?
In my right mind, I know that it does no good to think about death. It is a certain thing, but we, as humans, must deny this reality on a daily, hourly basis in order to focus on the Living part of Life. We cannot be paralyzed by the fear of death or bad things happening. We must Live in the present. #mindfulness
And yet, I find myself wondering whether I’m Living my best Life, whether I have any regrets or unfinished business, whether I’ve told you I love you enough?
One day—hopefully no time soon, but one day, I will pass. And there are things I want you to know—about me, about your family, about yourselves, about Living Life. Many of those things you’ll find on this blog should you one day choose to pore through it.
Until then, here is my Living List—25 things that I want you to know about Living Life:
1. Crazy is in your blood. Not just clinical crazy—which you should be aware of, but bathrobe-curlers-clashing-red-and-purple-mile-long-nails-bingo-daubber-disco-disco-gun-in-your-purse-capital-C-R-A-Z-Y. That would be thanks to your Great Grandma Marie.
2. You don’t have to grow up to be religious or believe in particular teachings, but know that I believe in a loving and gracious God. And if you choose not to, I’ll believe for you, because I see God in you—from your first steps to your missteps and everything in between.
3. You do need to grow up to be kind, thoughtful and caring—not because you are girls or because you are doormats, but because you will consider and be understanding of people, places and forces beyond yourself.
4. You will seek knowledge. The more you know, the more you’ll realize how little you know. Ignorance isn’t a lack of knowledge, it is a lack of desire to know. Let your curiosity be your guide.
5. Family is family. If it looks like a family, talks like a family, walks like a family, then it’s a family. Be family.
6. I say, we can dance if we want to / We can leave your friends behind / Because your friends don't dance / And if they don't dance / Well they're no friends of mine. (source)
7. Be close to your siblings. I mean realrealclose. See, talk and text with each other weekly if not daily. Have unwavering loyalty. Be willing to cut a b*tch. Laugh with and at each other. Make fun of your parents together. Always say yes—to watching their children, to putting out their trash, to going on vacation. When I get old or am gone, you’ll have one another to help decide my fate, to cry into each other’s arms, to take my trash tchotchkes to the dump.
8. Falling in love makes you grow Stupid Cells. You’ll fall madly, deeply in love—maybe more than once. Once the experience of falling in love has worn off, make sure your Stupid Cells didn’t grow into a tumor. If they did, get it removed immediately.
9. Trust your gut. It’s never too late to say no, to turn around, to back out.
10. Always practice safe sex. Enough said.
11. Look for integrity and respect in your partners. If you don’t know what that looks like, pay attention to how he treats his parents or how she treats your waiter.
12. Judge no one, except for assholes. Assholes are assholes.
13. Love is a choice. We all love and like to be loved differently: in words, in acts, in gifts, in time, in touch. Be aware of how you love and like to be loved. Fill others with love and allow yourself to be filled.
14. Be passionate about something. Anything.
15. Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes practice. Take breaks, but never stop practicing.
16. When you’re lost, go get lost in nature.
17. Believe you are worthy. This is more than having good self-esteem or confidence. Know that you are worthy—of love, of attention, of time for yourself, of treating yourself, of pursuing your passions, of taking up space, of existing.
18. Play—music, with paint, with a ball. Play with your friends, your children, by yourself. Make-believe and make time. Laugh at silly things and wonder at the playfulness of creation.
19. You can’t wear makeup until I say you can or until you’re sixteen, whichever comes first. And you’ll wear quality makeup that accentuates your beauty. You are not a clown. No tattoos or piercings until you are eighteen and out of the house. And I shouldn’t ever see your booty or your tummy in public. Say no to drugs.
20. If you feel you can’t talk to me, talk to your aunties, uncles, ninangs and ninongs. You are loved more than you know by more people than you know.
21. Know that there are awkward things about being human—poop and farts, bras and periods, wet dreams and body odor, among other things—but there is no shame in the human body. They come in all shapes and abilities. Our bodies can do amazing things—run and jump, spin and tumble, create and transform, see color and movement, feel a soft breeze and immense pleasure, hear whispers and thunder, smell the first rain and bread baking, taste sweetness and snowflakes on the tip of your tongue.
23. Do not harbor resentment. Resentment comes from not speaking your truth, from not being vulnerable enough to say what you need or want and then blaming it on someone else.
24. I love you no matter what. My love is unconditional. I will love you in the depths of your pain and mistakes. I will love you in the heights of your success and happiness. I will always be your lap to sit on, your ugly place, your shelter, your sanctuary. I will not always be nice or your friend. I will be the voice that haunts you, that urges you to do better, that annoys you. You will say you hate me. You will want to run away. You will say you love me. You will come back. You will always be my babies and I will always be your mommy.
25. Make good choices.