Someone once told me that planning is a form of hope, so maybe living means making plans despite how vulnerable they are. Gabriel Mello is pictured.

I have been preparing to die for a long time. Buying your own plot in a cemetery and burying your husband at 33 years old on one side of it, after they ask you at the cemetery office if he slept on the right or left. People often do it that way.

Having to navigate the years after my husband's sudden, out-of-order death made me feel a sense of urgency about preparing my own life in case something should happen to me.

In the early days of loss, there were memorial projects that were of paramount importance. She was given an album of letters from his friends and a diary he kept about her so she could know a little bit about him.

After the safety of the cocoon of grief, there was a new anxiety about something happening to me. I had never experienced panic attacks before the thought of leaving my daughter as an orphan. Who would tell her about my stories, how I spoke about her, or remind her of the memories we shared when she was a child?

Purchase life insurance, make a will, and choose guardians are all important things. Never miss a mammogram, take my vitamins, and exercise. I wrote a long letter to her every year about the special things we did, but I also wrote about the simpler things, like the imaginary games she enjoyed at the time I was writing. These were the kinds of words and jokes that would be forgotten if they weren't recorded.

While everyone was KonMari, I was reading The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning so that people would be able to find information in case of an emergency.

I started marking quotes I wanted at my own memorial next to quotes I had read. It is the closest thing to attending your own funeral because it is also your family and friends in attendance, your photos and your shared memories.

It takes a lot of time and energy to prepare for death. It has taken 11 years for me. My daughter is now a teenager. She is always trying to narrow down her own vision for herself, so she asks me one day about my dreams for the future. I realize that I've put a lot of thought and preparation into what if I'm not here.

It turns out it takes a lot of time and energy to practically prepare for your death.

After all of the years of survival, I'm shocked that she'll be in college in four years.

It may have been easier to plan for my death than it was for me. The funeral homes are sterile. The birthing rooms are messy. Preparing for death has limited tasks. Life is open in every direction. Eventually, death is certain. Courage is required when facing an uncertain future where hearts can break and life can change in a moment.

I contemplated a vision board on New Year's Eve, but I wasn't sure if it was up to the task. It wasn't New Year's with its champagne, confetti and resolutions, but the more somber season of Lent that showed me the way forward.

On Ash Wednesday, the priest puts ashes on our foreheads and says, "Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return."

The ancient Roman generals are said to have had a servant whispering to keep them humble after victories. Life coaches recommend that you write your own obituary in order to prioritize your life goals. In some Asian countries, people spend time in a coffin to get a new lease on life. I was going to have my name chiseled on the right side of the gravestone. It felt like wisdom to me to remember how close I was to death. It wasn't giving me motivation.

During Lent, I learned that the Latin phrase "memento vivere" means "remember that you must live."

Immediately after my husband's death, the mori served me well. It helped me make important decisions like my will and guardians for my daughter. I had to let go. Life isn't meaningful only because it is fleeting, but because it is beautiful to be alive.

In a memoir, Holocaust survivor and professor, Elie Wiesel wrote that life is not death. Death is not meant to guide us; it is life that will show us the way.

Yes, loss helps us measure the value of things, but maybe life isn’t meaningful only because it’s inherently fleeting, but because it’s beautiful to be alive.

I have to let go of my archives for a future I am not in. It means I might forget some things I said to my daughter a year ago. Life can't be harnessed in words. I didn't get to my yearly letter this year, but my daughter and I enjoy an outing together every Saturday, and every night at dinner she tells me about the latest middle school drama. Sometimes we cry and laugh at the same time.

Someone once told me that planning is a form of hope, so maybe living means making plans even if they are vulnerable. One of my late husband's favorite movies was The Shawshank Redemption.

It's scary to imagine the future when you've been blindsided before. I think I might have a whole other chapter in a new city, fall in love again, and maybe even hold my grandchild one day.

Walker Percy suggests that if you realize you have the option of not being here, but choosing to be here, you can set yourself free. You are free to do that. You are like a prisoner who is about to be released. The door to the cell is ajar and the sun is shining outside. Take a walk down the street. You are alive, where you might have died. The sun is shining.

Easter is at the other end of Lent. I don't know what I want to do with the years ahead of me, but I am starting to think about them for the first time. I'm making plans. I'm remembering to live. There was a fleeting vivere. The sun is shining.

Julia Cho's work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post. She writes about loss, parenting and technology. She is writing a memoir. You can follow her on social media.

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The article was originally on HuffPost.

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