Maybe I’m nostalgic, but I’ve always liked to hang on to greeting cards, particularly birthday cards with written messages or congratulations cards from big moments. Not only do they remind me of exciting times from my past, but they also help me feel connected to family members, especially ones who have passed away. A recent news story revealed that I’m not alone on seeing greeting cards as a way to make memories.
Heather McManamy is a 35-year-old mom and was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in April 2013. Just over a year later, in August 2014, she was given a terminal diagnosis. She’ll leave behind a husband and 4-year-old daughter. McManamy is determined to have her daughter remember her even after she’s gone, so she turned to the timeless power of a written message, according to ABC News.
Since last August, McManamy has been filling out greeting cards for all of her daughter’s future milestones. Among the 40-plus cards sealed in colorful envelopes, she’s covered just about every big moment in addition to jokes, encouragement and advice.
“I did them from when she’s older or younger — random encouragement, bad day, wedding, driver license, even first breakup,” McManamy told ABC News.
The McFarland, Wisconsin, mom hopes to be able to hand deliver each message, but she has accepted that may not be possible. Her breast cancer has spread to her liver, bones and even her skull. That’s why she’s dedicated so much time to leaving written messages, and she’s also filmed several videos for when her daughter is older.
Leave a message for your kids
McManamy told ABC News that she hopes her story inspires other parents to leave something physical behind for their kids after they’re gone. Any parent who hears her story will certainly gain a new appreciation for written letters. Life is unpredictable, so take time now to create memories with your kids. Here are a few idea:
- Write a letter for their wedding day. This doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be there to celebrate, but it will be fun to provide an in-the-moment perspective while they’re still kids. They’ll enjoy reliving their childhood on their wedding days.
- Save past memories by preserving greeting cards. Turn this into a craft with the kids by creating a scrapbook out of the messages.
- Create a time capsule. Join your little ones in writing letters to your future selves. Open them a year from now, ten years from now or at a big milestone event. Just remember where you put them!
Whether it’s next year’s birthday card or a letter you want them to open decades from now, your words can have a lasting impact.