Dying Mom Lives Out Bucket List With Her Kids in Most Touching Ways (VIDEO)

Susan Spencer-WendelIt's a hypothetical question that causes tears to flood my eyes whenever it passes through my mind, no matter how fleetingly -- what would I do if I couldn't see my children grow up? Mom Susan Spencer-Wendel faced that very real question when she was diagnosed with ALS in 2011, and her answer to it has been brave, heartbreaking, and inspiring.

After learning that she had the neurodegenerative disease that causes paralysis and ultimately death, she didn't wallow in sadness. Instead she devised a bucket list so that she could soak up every minute of life with her husband and three children, and to do so with great joy.

She documented the first year after her diagnosis in her recently released memoir Until I Say Good-Bye: My Year of Living With Joy, which she typed entirely with one thumb on her iPhone, as her hands have been crippled by the disease. It's full of so much wisdom and so much inspiration, but it was one of the items on her bucket list in particular that I found especially powerful.

More from The Stir: Dying Mom Has Baby So Her Daughter Won't Be Left Alone (VIDEO)

According to Today, she took her daughter, Marina, to New York to try on wedding dresses at Kleinfeld Bridal. She was 14 at the time. She wrote:

I wanted to see my beautiful daughter on her wedding day. I wanted to glimpse at the woman she will be. A moment I will never share.

Those lines give me chills. I just can't imagine how difficult it was for her to do that knowing she'd never be there when her daughter actually walks down the aisle, but what a gift for both of them. She also took her son swimming with dolphins for his 9th birthday, and took a trip to an island with her 10-year-old daughter, in addition to various journeys with her husband and friends.

Through it all, her biggest goal was to leave them with lasting memories and to live each day with joy. Even when she got to her lowest points, she said it was her family's well-being that came first.

I thought of suicide about as often as you see a butterfly. It would flutter into my mind, and I would study it, marveling at its symmetry. Then it would flit away, and I would forget, for it was only a passing thing. Until it returned the next day, and the next.

I do not think my death will ruin my family’s lives. But I realize the way I die may affect their ability to live with delight. To live with joy. A suicide would teach my children that I was weak. When I am strong.

How very strong she is, and what an incredible inspiration. Every day we take so many moments for granted, and it's stories like this that remind us how fleeting our time is on Earth. To do anything other than embrace it and live it with joy is a shame. 

In the closing pages of her book, she acknowledges that things didn't always go as planned on her journey, but they were "perfect memories nonetheless." She wrote:

I guess that's a lesson, if there must be one. Accept the life that comes. Work and strive, but accept. Don't force the world to be the one you dream. The reality is better.

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What things would you want to do with your children if you knew you wouldn't see them grow up?


Image via Today

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bubbb... bubbbles454

awe aweet. What a super Mom!

lasombrs lasombrs

I think what she did was great. My mom died when I was 13 and I wish I could have done some of these things with her

BJJ6681 BJJ6681

This is so wonderful and heart wrenching all at the same time! Great to see her being so strong for her kids and giving them memories that will last the rest of their lives, rather than sitting around wallowing in misery and not showing them love or peace in her passing. I wish this family (and any family that deals with a death such as this) the most happiness they can find!

Lisa Rae Creese

Wow, what an inspiration. She is a very strong women and I will remember this when things in my life don't go as planned. Thank you for sharing with your book.

Mason... MasonsMom3411

My mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in January 2010 and by April she was in hospice... I had just begun dating my now husband around that time! He and I both knew we were each others one... He told me he was gonna marry me on our second date! He was able to meet my mom in the hospital, we took pics with her with instructions to show our kids the pics and show the pic our kids so she could see them! They closed down a bridal shop in my town about 2 weeks before she passed so she could see me try on dresses... It ended up being the dress I wore at my wedding and I got pics of me in my dress with my mom! I was told I couldn't have kids due to my own ovarian problems... And the first day of my last period with my first child was my mom's funeral... Her final gift to me! This story reminded me of my mom!!!

Firen... Firenygirl180

My mom passed when i was 10. I have always known that if there was any chance that i wouldn't be around for my kids lives i would go out and buy them cards for every birthday, graduation their wedding, first baby,etc and write special little notes to them. I also plan to write out a small journal for each to have as they grow with add much family history and memories if then as possible. This i will do regardless so they have it and can oaf out down to their kids.

hopea... hopealways4019

This woman is truly a inspiration, so much grace, courage. She wow me! She inspires me that im blessed and not to be afraid. My 10 yr old who died from leukemia last year, inspired me too , this boy laughed through his whole treatment. People like them inspire me. I love them!

nonmember avatar Shelly Brantley

How Beautiful!!! Way to go to this Mom!! My mother died from ALS years ago so I know how tough this aweful diecease is!!! God speed to this family!!

Cassie Gillies O'Brien

My mom died before my younger siblings and I were married and had kids (I was 21 and the youngest was 16). We missed out on so very much. I am so happy that this Mom has the forethought to do some of these things.

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