Erica’s Cancer Journey: “Living testament”

Erica emerges from the deep in 2013

“Death is not the end.
There remains the litigation over the estate.”
– Ambrose Bierce

Among the many tasks on our family pre-death To Do list are updating our wills. It’s less exciting than it sounds.

The good news is that it actually affects my life, which has changed over the years. Now I’m up to date with some of the financial stuff, and as the kids have aged, some of our choices on their behalf have changed. The bad news isn’t really bad: It’s just tedious to go through everything – lots of dull, party-of-the-first-part language, and I’m not talking pump-up-the-jam party.


Why am I sharing this with you? Not because I got a Spotify account yesterday, but because updating my will feels solid and secure – like good shoes in the snow. I know the legal “what-ifs,” what my family is prepared for, how they are protected. I can’t will myself (heh heh) to live longer, but I can ensure their legacy. (Side note to my kids: Don’t plan on any fortunes in your future). The protections Mike and I have put into place were not radical ideas that we came up with ourselves. It was worth the dull parts to get to a place of slightly more comfort discussing assets, whatever else we talked about, even things like capital gains [snooze], which turn out to have nothing to do with weight.

I have no advice to share. I only updated my will because I’m staring down the “living testament” coming my way. But having revised it periodically over the past 20 years, especially since we had kids, it feels good not to think about it. Not that I thought a lot about it before; but now it’s done. While we were lawyering anyway, then, I got to thinking about more snoozers like health care proxies, living wills and powers of attorney. But updated is updated, and I can leave it be for a while; and so can my family without paying unnecessary taxes, which can have insane penalties without protections in place.

My kids can’t set up guardianships and make financial decisions for themselves. It’s up to me to do it. I find that sobering; where’s the “grownup” who just makes this happen, anyway? When did I ever use the word “probate” before? Rebate maybe, but probate? This topic works better than my sleep/relaxation recording.

I will now reward myself with some Lagusta’s chocolates for being so responsible.

Head On and Heart Strong!

Love, Erica

Kids’ Almanac columnist Erica Chase-Salerno was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in the Summer of 2015. To read more about her experience, visit

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