Mom Michelle Wallace found out she had an extreme case of endometrial cancer after giving birth to her fourth child, Toby, so she created a special video to help him remember her after she’s gone. Wallace is not alone, as many terminally ill patients are turning to nonprofits like Just So You Know and Thru My Eyes to create “legacy videos” free of charge for their families.
Wallace’s adult daughter, Kallie Greenly, asks her mother questions in the video, ranging from what happiness means to her to how she wants to be remembered. In the video, a teary-eyed Wallace shares, “How much I love my family. I know if I die before Toby is old enough to remember me, that’s the one thing I would want everybody to share, is just how much I love my family.”
Sadly, Wallace passed away just months later, when Toby was only two years old. Now five years old, Toby recently got to see his mother’s video for the first time. His older sister says he knew who his mom was as soon as he saw the video: “He was just like, that’s my mom! I know that as he gets older, it’ll be more important to him, more special.”
But social worker Eileen Heller says it can be difficult to approach cancer patients about the opportunity to create a legacy video: “It is very delicate… I have to establish trust with patients who broach this. Almost always the patients are emotional about it because they’re directly confronting the fact they won’t be alive to raise their children.”
But these videos aren’t just for people with young children, since some also make them for their grown children or spouses. Ralph Corbo’s wife made a video for him and their adult daughter before she died of breast cancer, and he says that while the video is difficult to watch, it’s irreplaceable: “You do put yourself through it again and of course you’re looking at your lover and loved one and listening to her voice. It is real, which is different from a photograph.”