I was telling a friend about an upcoming trip I was taking with my spouse when my friend said, 

“You and your husband are going on a plane at the same time?” 


“What if the plane crashes and the kids are left with no parents?” 

I thought for a moment, then said, “Then that would be part of their story. Their parents died in a plane crash and their surrogate parents loved and raised them. Then, maybe they could use what they learned to help other kid’s heal in a similar situation.”

She looked at me like she was waiting for me to laugh. When I didn’t, she walked away with a worried look. 

When my friend left, I thought about her comment. I believe that there are no coincidences and that every interaction in our life, in our days, is an important, meaningful one — and oftentimes a gift. I knew I was supposed to hear what that gal said, but why? What was I supposed to do with that plane crash question? How could that be a gift? I closed my eyes and thought about it. 

I am not afraid to die. I think it will be glorious when I return home. I do get sad thinking about the kid’s heartache of losing me. I thought about how bummed I would be if I didn’t get to tell them all the things that I think are important in life. Stuff like: Love yourselves because you are perfectly imperfect exactly the way they are; choose friends and partners that are kind to their heart; have fun; dance; act silly; talk to strangers; be different! I’d share how they can create a dream life vision for themselves and make it their reality. 

Ah-ha, that is the gift hidden in the interaction with my friend! To write my kids a letter now, while I am still here, that says all of the super-important things from my heart. How exciting! I can give my kids that gift regardless of how my life plays out. 

What shall I write? 

I want to tell each of them what they mean to me, what I see in them that is special and what is uniquely theirs. 

I want to explain who I am and why I act the way I do at times. I want them to know I don’t think I am the best mom, but I do work everyday on myself, so I can show up with less baggage and more love. 

I want to tell them how I think the world works — that if you move everyday towards what you want, eventually, it will be yours. No one can keep you from it (except you). 

I would share how heartache and struggles are gifts because when your heart is broken, it is able to expand in ways that you never imagined. And the more open your heart is, the more you can love and be loved. Let your heart be broken wide open. 

Forgive! Forgiveness of everything will set you free and allow you to soar. If you hold on to anything, it will be like a lead weight around your ankle. You will be stuck. If you hold on to too much, you will get sick. 

I would tell my kids that love, compassion, kindness and giving are more important than any degree they can earn or any amount of money they can make. Happiness comes from filling your heart with so much love that it bubbles over to those around you. Money is a wonderful thing, but use it to have fun and to help others. 

I would tell them to give without expecting anything back. 

Don’t keep tabs. 

The past does not exist, it is only a memory. Do not let those memories hold you back from living your life today. Be present. 

Don’t worry about the future. Worrying does nothing good for your body, but it does do a lot of damage. 

Oh this is so exciting! 

I would tell my firstborn, Charlie, that his struggles, empathy and kindness will be used to heal and change the lives of those who are struggling. That his life journey taught me what it really means to be a mother; to show up as a malleable foundation of love that holds no boundaries of what it is supposed to be, but instead becomes what the child needs to empower him thrive.

I would tell my wonderful daughter, Margot, that she has a beautiful heart and the poetic gift of writing. She must write. She must use what God has given her by sharing her words because people need to hear them. She has a beautiful earthsuit (the suit that houses her soul), but that doesn’t come close to the beauty she has within. I would also tell her she was born a lady. She is teaching me to be a lady, as I teach her to have balls.

I would tell my sweet boy twin, Sargent, that his sensitive soul and comedic talent will take him far, just like it has his daddy. He is an amazing athlete, very funny, but most importantly, he is kind. He will bless the world with his kindness and not to mention, a wife and kids one day, just like his daddy.

I would tell my spicy girl twin, Audrey, that she has pizzaz. With her unique singing voice backed up with her sass and compassion, she is on her way to a stage, sitting on a stool with a spotlight in front of thousands of people while moving their souls with her song. And if she wants to take a break from singing lessons or guitar, take it. It’s her life, do it her way, but she must do it. And I would tell her that she doesn’t have to act so tough or be so strong. We all have her back. We are here for her. She is not alone. 

I would tell my little Evie, my baby, that she came into this world as a true miracle from God; frozen 10 years, then diagnosed as severely disabled in utero. She must stand strong in the miracle she is and share her specialness with the world. I would also tell her that she is hilarious, a delight to be with and such a blessing to our family. 

Death is something that we all have in common. It is the final chapter of our story on Earth. I tell my kids from time to time that when I die, my spirit will soar from my earhtsuit and move freely about. They can think about me or talk to me because I will always be with them. And when they have finished their time here, I will be waiting for them, up on a cloud, and we will be together forever. 

I am off to write the death letters to my sweet children. Hopefully they are reading them as they close the casket over my 88-year-old, tutu-wearing, pearl-clad, worn out earthsuit. 

Or... maybe I’ll give the letters to them sooner, so we can enjoy them while I am still here.

Leigh Koechner