When I became a single mom at 39, my friends asked me if I’d made a will. My business requires occasional overnight travel, but I’d never before had to consider, What will happen to Ido and Ruth if I don't make it back home?
If you’re a parent, no doubt your heart hurts a little every time you say goodbye to your kids. How was I going to put in writing—and initial, sign, and date—what was, for me, a forever goodbye?
It took me a few years to meet with a lawyer—a friend, who, in her living room, asked me these questions:
- Whom do you want to take care of your kids?
- Where will they live?
- Whom do you want to give your business to?
- Who is the one to pull the plug on you?
Will I send Ido and Ruth back to Israel to live with Dana, my only sibling? Will I keep them in New York City, where they were born, where their school and friends are? What will I do with Roni Rabi, the novelty clothing company my mother launched in Israel in 1992, now a distributor she and I run in the Garment District, serving 500 stores nationwide? Whom can I trust to let me go when it’s time?
And, lastly, whom do I want to leave a piece of me, of my life, to?
Later, going through all my stuff at home, I realized this: making a will isn’t about one’s material assets; it’s about the people we love. How fun to hold my Buddha sculpture and think, “Dana will enjoy this.” Now, ten years later, whenever I sense that a sweater or a book or a vase is perfect for someone, I add it to my will list. Instead of fear, I feel enormous joy. I feel responsible, loving, generous.
I even keep a list of tips to leave for Ido and Ruth. “Don’t skimp on food and sheets.” Bring something when you’re invited to someone’s home.” “Always cherish the relationship between brother and sister.”
Making a will has attuned me, too, to expressing my love in the here and now. I speak it. I write it. Ido, I’m so proud of you. Ruth, you can do anything. Mom, I will always love you. Dana, my life would be hard and gray without you.
The noun “will” comes from the Old English willa, meaning (as you’d expect) “mind, determination, purpose” and “desire, wish, request.” Did you know that it also means “joy, delight”?
Writing this makes me smile. Have you made your will? If yes, do you ongoingly expand it? If no, I hope you’ll begin the process. It promises a life of surprises, wonder, love.Yael