Dying Mom Buys Cards For Toddler's Future Milestones

by Maria Guido
Originally Published: 

Here’s a story that will make you stop to appreciate every moment with your child today: Heather McManamy, a 35-year-old mom fighting cancer, thought of a way to be present for her daughter’s future milestones — even if her cancer ends up making that impossible. She’s buying cards for the future events her daughter may have to celebrate without her.

“I did them from when she’s older or younger — random encouragement, bad day, wedding, driver license, even first breakup,” she told ABC News. “Every one of these that I get to hand out in person will be an accomplishment.”

© ABC News/ Heather McNamany

McNamany was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in April 2013. Her diagnosis became terminal in August 2014. She told ABC News, “It’s in my liver, my bones, my skull, it’s everywhere.” The cards are an attempt to be there for her family and daughter if it becomes physically impossible: “It’s really painful to know that they’re going to be sad and I won’t be there to comfort them.”

Oh, god. This story is like a brick to the heart.

We get so wrapped up in our everyday, that we forget to think about how little matters more than just our ability to be here with our children. Just exist with them. The thought of not being able to be here for my children leaves me with a feeling I can’t even describe. It doesn’t have an adjective. It’s unfathomable.

But McNamany has to fathom it. A terminal diagnosis forces you to.

What an amazing, strong mother. What a beautiful idea. The next time I become overwhelmed with one of the everyday annoyances of being a parent, I’m really going to try to remember this story – and talk myself down. Appreciating what you have is one of the hardest things to master. McNamany told ABC News that she hopes her story inspires parents to leave something physical behind for their children after they’re gone.

“They’re like this physical representation of ‘this is all of the stuff I’m going to miss,'” McNamany said. “I’m going to miss everything and I never like missing anything. I’m always the last one to leave the party.”

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