It's a scenario that strikes terror in every mother's heart. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, Kate Greene had to come to terms with the fact that she would not see her young sons grow up.
But, determined to continue to be a presence in their lives, she drew up a 'mummy's manual' of more than 100 hopes and ambitions for her two boys to read after her death.
Kate Greene died in January at the age of 37 after a two-year battle with breast cancer. She wanted Finn, aged four, and Reef, six, to grow sunflowers, attend an international rugby match and to learn to say what they mean on the phone. She also asks them to go to Switzerland, where her husband St John proposed to her.
She even urges her husband to find another woman so that the boys can have a female influence.
In the list, she says she wants her boys to learn to always be on time, to treat girlfriends with respect and to make up after a row. She also says they should never smoke, ride motorbikes or join the Armed Forces.
The list also includes things she liked, such as special cuddles from her children, and walks by the river.
Kate had already had her fair share of heartbreak before she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2005, while she was pregnant with Finn, doctors found a tumour in her older son Reef's abdomen. He was given a six per cent chance of survival and had intensive chemotherapy and surgery, which damaged nerves in his legs.
Against all odds, Reef went into remission.
Then in 2008, Kate found a lump in her left breast and underwent 18 months of chemotherapy. But the disease had spread too far and she died in January this year.
Husband St John told the Daily Mail: 'I think towards the end we both knew Kate's time was up. We've known each other since we were children and didn't need to say the words. We just knew.
'Then one night she became really frightened she wouldn't make it through the night. We stayed up chatting and at about 4am we drew up the wish list of things I had to do with the boys. Before I knew it, there were over three sides of A4.
'Losing Kate was more devastating than words can describe but by carrying out all the wishes on the list we still have an emotional tie.'