Their ten-year-old son is now an orphan. I hope to become his legal guardian, as I've been close with him since he was born, and began watching him on Saturdays when he was three months old when his mom returned to work.
After my brother's death, I proposed the following to Irene, the single parent of a five-month-old boy: that I take him at least once a month, overnight, to give her a break; and to allow him to grow up knowing the love of his father's family. This way, if she ever needed to travel, attend an event, etc., she would always have a place for her son to stay ~ somewhere he'd already be familiar with; a place she could count on as a safe, loving environment.
We had this arrangement for the past ten years. Hours before she died, she wrote me an e-mail asking for certain dates in July and August for my nephew to sleepover. This has been his second home his entire life.
It's as if I was preparing for this role for ten years and didn't know it.
We hope and pray that all goes well and my nephew will become a permanent member of our immediate family. He's been growing up with my two children more as siblings than cousins. We love him dearly.
When a tragedy like this strikes ~ it serves as a reminder to review how prepared you and/or your family members are, regarding your wishes. Are wills completed, or do they need updating? Does someone in your family know your wishes? Do they know whom your attorney is, whom to contact, where important documents are, etc? A sudden, unexpected tragedy is difficult enough to deal with; but preparations done in advance certainly helps those left behind.
Do the right thing ~ make sure your family knows your wishes; have a will made; maintain of list of where important documents are kept; keep a list of those to contact in case tragedy strikes ~ which I pray never does ~ but at least you'll have peace of mind knowing you've made your wishes known and have eased the burden on your loved ones.
Here's a list of 12 Easy Steps to Preparing Your Estate Plan. Also, check out Emergencies: Are You Prepared? Your Personal Checklist of Important Documents.