Dying mum writes daughter cards to last a lifetime

Heather McManamy won’t see most of her daughter’s birthdays. She won’t see her graduate, get her licence, start her first job, marry or have children. She won’t be able to guide her through love, heartbreak and life’s other ups and downs. But she’s making sure that when those things happen, she’ll still be able to comfort, congratulate and celebrate with her.

Heather, 35, has been battling breast cancer for two years. It’s now stage four and has spread to her bones and liver. She knows she won’t live long. But she is determined that for the rest of four-year-old daughter Brianna’s life, she will know how much her mum loved her.

The Wisconsin mum has written cards to support Brianna through each and every milestone of her life – from big occasions such as birthdays and her wedding, to times when she just needs words of encouragement, such as “way to kick butt”.

heather cards

“You name it, and I’ve got a card for it,” Heather tells Yahoo Parenting. “Some have a lot written inside, and some are just short and sweet. Like what I’d write if I were here.” So far, she has written cards up to Brianna’s 30th birthday.

“I hope she’ll feel my unconditional love for her and know that I’m still with her,” Heather says. “I hope she can feel the pride I’ll have for her on big days and my hugs on tough ones. And know that I love her with my whole heart forever and ever. No matter what.”


Brianna’s dad, Jeff, will give her the cards when the time is right. “Maybe a week or two after her birthday will be the right time. Maybe it will be never. It will be absolutely OK however it plays out,” she says, adding that she doesn’t expect Brianna to read the cards if it’s too much to bear. “I don’t expect her to do anything in life other than find her happiness. If Bri never opens a card or watches a video, I’m A-OK with that.”

But she hopes her story will encourage other mums to write cards or letters to their children, regardless of their circumstances.  “Every day, the fact I will die is in my face. Most people have the luxury of being naive to that fact,” she says. “But … you could go before me. Taking a few minutes to do something like that could provide your loved ones with an incredible amount of comfort. So why not?”

(Images via Heather McManamy/Yahoo Parenting)

Michelle Rose

Michelle Rose

Michelle is a journalist and mum to two girls who are obsessed with dinosaurs, fairies, pirates and princesses in equal measure. She lives in Melbourne's east with her husband, daughters and a giant, untameable labradoodle. Michelle loves all things vegetarian, wine (it's a fruit) and online shopping.

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