Person's feet are going up a staircase of life milestones, including a baby's crib, graduation hats in the air, a rocking chair on a porch, and a sun shining between clouds to reflect uncertainty about the future.

It’s Never Enough

I just saw my 18-year-old son graduate from high school. Although this seemed impossible when I was first diagnosed in 2013, I was here to watch him walk across the stage to receive his high school diploma. In three months, I will be there to help him move into college across the country, set up his dorm room and leave him to begin a quasi-independent life. As opposed to a number of my friends, who feel sad that their child will be away from home, I am thrilled! I never thought I would be around to raise him to this point in his life and I’m so excited to see him ready for his next steps.

I still want to experience more

I remember thinking to myself when I was first diagnosed that if I would be fortunate enough to see my boys launched into college, I would be satisfied with a life lived well. At the time, that seemed almost like an unattainable goal. Although I still have two years more to go before my younger son graduates from high school, this goal no longer seems so impossible. Despite being close to reaching my long-term goal, however, I am nowhere near ready to be done with living. I still want more -- much, much more!

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Celebrating my family's milestones

I’ve written before about milestones in my family’s lives and how important I believe it is to recognize and celebrate these events and achievements. Every time I have reached a milestone, I’m very happy to have made it to that point, but I soon find something new to focus on. It’s never enough. However much I get to experience of important moments in life, I still want to experience more and more! Is that selfish? I don’t really think so. I recognize that I’ve been fortunate with my treatment and am so thankful, but I wish I didn’t always need to think so tentatively about the future.

I’m at the stage in life now when some of my friends are becoming empty nesters and others expect to be in the next few years. My husband and I are in our 50s and it’s not unusual for us to be part of discussions about what will come next -- downsizing, retiring, etc. It’s often difficult for me to be part of these conversations about future plans. While I have ideas and things I would like to do as much as anyone else, it’s hard to fully enjoy talking about plans without wondering if I’ll still be around. It’s not really okay in social settings to just throw “I hope to be alive” into these conversations -- talk about a downer!

Looking to the future

I would like to see my boys graduate college, start first jobs, and get married. I would like to meet my grandchildren one day. I would also like to retire somewhere with my husband and enjoy the perks of being an empty nester with no fixed schedule at some point. Will these things happen? I don’t know. I hope so, but right now all of these seem like long-term goals way too far away to even be possible. I’ll continue with hope, though, and try to remember that high school graduation once felt the same way.

Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on June 23, 2024, Ivy Elkins passed away. Ivy’s advocacy efforts and writing continue to reach many. She will be deeply missed.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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