“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” -Pericles

Last week I turned the big 5-0, where most people dread hitting that half century mark I embrace it with great gusto! Ten years ago I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. I remember that moment as if it were yesterday. I was sitting in the waiting room of a dentist office while my oldest was getting her wisdom teeth pulled. My phone rang and when I answered~ the poor nurse on the other end “thought” I knew my doctor had informed me of the possibilty of a test coming back positive… I was like “what test?” and “positive for what?” She couldn’t hold back now. I was like “SPILL!” The second she told me I was positive for cancer the air seemed to be sucked out of the room. In my mind, I was going to die the next day. Horrible things went through my head – My oldest just turned twenty-one and still in college, my youngest was a senior in high school. Two very important times in their lives and I find out I have cancer! WHY? I forgot about my faith, my positive outlook on life and just shook my head in defeat. I hung up from that call and did my best not to cry in the office. I didn’t know how to tell anyone; my poor family has already had to deal with my other health anomalies…

Then a nurse came around the corner and asked “are you ready?” It was like one of those movie scenes where a person seems to be on a conveyor belt and is fast tracked to your face. I shook it off and realized what she really said. “Mrs. Wilhelm, she is ready!” meaning my daughter was finished. That brought me out of that stupid frame of mind. Why am I writing this? I seen my life flash before my eyes, my beautiful family and my friends. I’ve spent most of my adult life battling the RA, in pain daily. What were they going to remember of me? What legacy was I leaving behind? My biggest fear is to be forgotten and remembered as weak, fragile and broken.

I love the arts. I mean ALL of them. I can touch on a few, but am not proficient. I was taught to play instruments, to read music but the only instrument I’m really good at is the radio. I love to draw and paint, I’m not bad but not going to be in any shows or galleries anytime soon. Musicals and plays are fun but I am horrible at memorization so acting is out. Writing is the only thing that gives me peace, I have a passion for it and now it has given me a platform. A platform to express myself, a way to entertain, a way to connect and something to share. A small fingerprint to leave behind.

Now with this new purpose and a new outlook I say bring it on! No more dwelling on the things I cannot do, but it’s time to work on what I can. I need to stop thinking and just doing, let the insecurities go. Listen to the positive feedback and move forward. I will be working toward publishing my stories, finishing my novel and getting it all out there. I AM TERRIFIED! But I’m going to do it! I want my grandchildren to know that their Nana isn’t worthless. That there is more than a disease. I want them to know that I was kind and chose forgiveness, acceptance and happiness. Most of all I want them to know that I loved unconditionally and wholeheartedly.

How do you want to be remembered?

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