If there ever were a time in the world when a bad idea could be turned overnight into reality, now is the time. I have the resources, the strategy and the tools necessary to set up what I want but my convictions and sense of morality seem to come in the way. If not for these obstacles perhaps I’d be launching my own reality show, “Who Wants To Be My Legacy.”
As a terminal cancer patient in my early 30’s, it’s been a challenging few years filled with endless hospital visits and treatments sprinkled with the rest of my life. Questions and decisions become commonplace and finding the meaning of the everyday have aged me well beyond my years.
I’ve seen my peers climb the work ladder and travel the world while I’ve remained content in the ability to open my eyes each day. I’ve seen girlfriends and boyfriends turn into wives and husbands. They in turn are now mothers and fathers — something I’m not quite sure I will now see.
Five years ago, prior to starting my first round of chemotherapy, my oncologist wisely suggested that I consider banking some sperm in case my treatments resulted in my impotence. It’s a strange thing for a man to have his biological clock forced ticked but in a way, the decision to do this required me to ‘man up’ arguably more so than fighting the cancer itself. When we are sick, we are vulnerable and if we are lucky to have support around us while going through treatment, it’s very easy to become a kid again that finds comfort in the arms of their loved ones.
I never quite have had the opportunity since my initial diagnosis to follow in the footsteps of many friends and attempt to date, find love and marry. Perhaps a part of me didn’t seek out a relationship hoping my healthy days would be ahead of me. But as years have gone by and my treatments become more aggressive and I see myself living beyond the known statistics, I have to wonder now, what will be my legacy.
This perhaps has further accelerated since the death of my mother. She was my rock and after having lost my father several years back, to see that my premature death would now come naturally after the also untimely deaths of my parents, I can’t help but want something to live on.
With that, let me launch, “Who Wants To Be My Legacy.” This will be unlike any other reality show out there. While there will be signed contracts and cash prizes, there will also be death and taxes and at the end, a baby.
The show will have two parts. First, I will select the right female donor and then choose the right surrogate to carry my child to term. I will ultimately choose the surrogate but I will be aided in the selection process by 3 of my close female friends (a mother, a mother-to-be, and a mother trying to get pregnant).
After my surrogate has been chosen, I’ll be looking for their mother. I want to do it this way because I need to make sure that the child’s mother is doing this for the right reason. While I won’t exclude specific women from the search, I will say that I likely will have a soft spot for a woman who cannot conceive or has decided she only wishes to adopt.
My goal is to avoid becoming the “Terminal Bachelor.” Through a series of games and tests, I will choose the most compatible mother for my child. For this part of the show, I will be seeking advice from a panel of experts including my sister (who will be managing my child’s welfare after my death), my dear fellow cancer-stricken friend (who already has been playing matchmaker for her husband after she dies), and my high school friend’s wife (a professor, a feminist, my Simon Cowell of the panel). Together, we’ll choose the right woman to be mother to my child.
The reward of course will be motherhood, my entire estate (the majority left to my child but a negotiated percentage entitled to the mother annually) and every earthly possession of mine. I don’t expect the mother and child to live in a shrine to their father and grandparents but holding onto family heirlooms, personal items such as diaries, journals, photographs, videos, etc. would have to blend into their home.
I can’t delude myself into thinking that the mother will not date or likely want to marry or have other children but since this is my show and I set up the rules; I’m going to stay true to the reality show code of ironclad contracts, which if broken, can result in a multi-million dollar lawsuit.
“Who Wants To Be My Legacy” will continue my name and my parent’s name. It enables me to close my eyes peacefully knowing there is a child out there who had an amazing father that did everything he could to give his child everything they needed. The strength, the courage, the wisdom that I carry with me needs to be passed on for the legacy of my parents to continue on as well. Each generation wishes the best for the next. My parents left with hope. I need to feel that way as well. As selfish as our individual legacy may be, if it’s something I can control, perhaps it is the right thing to do.
I’m not sure if my convictions and my sense of morality really are the factors stopping me from launching this show. Maybe it comes down to a fear, a legitimate fear that I still can’t let go of — to knowingly and deliberately bring pain or hardship to someone else. My child will have a life that I can only plan but I know more than anyone else how plans can change in a moment’s notice. Do I want to take that risk?
“Who Want To Be My Legacy” may already have awarded its winner. I’m the sum of my life and my impact in the world will carry on despite my physical absence. I have to decide or perhaps accept that while my time may be closer to the end than I like, it also means that my legacy, no matter what I do, keeps growing and changing with me and what I share is what I give. Maybe my legacy is that I became a father without ever having a child.