Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I Too Shall Pass.

A word or two about facing my own mortality.

I guess about the time I was 31 it hit me. One day, possibly tomorrow even, but if not tomorrow or the next day, ONE DAY I'm going to die.

Last fall, I had major surgery. There was something about being put under anesthesia that reminded me of all those jailhouse execution scenes in movies and on TV. I was nervous and scared and horrendously unhappy because it was surgery to remove an ectopic pregnancy and due to the urgency of the situation, there wasn't time to think everything I wanted to think or say everything I wanted to say. The possibility of not waking up was something I just didn't have much time to consider because I was worried about whether the life insurance was paid (it was) and if I'd have a nice funeral and if and when I did wake up, how much pain I'd be in and how much time I'd have to take off work and why oh why did this have to happen when we'd wanted a baby so damned long.

Well, the surgery was successful and I didn't die only I was left with all the pain and guilt and just wanting to be left alone. Only the sun kept rising and sooner than I thought possible, I joined the world again. Fall is a blur that melded into a very depressing Christmas time for me as I was still working out all the pregnancy hormones without the joy of actually being pregnant.

And somehow even with all that and all the people I've loved and lost I don't think I really understood dying until the other day when I wanted to figure out exactly how much longer I have left to live, barring getting hit by a MAC truck or something similar.

As it turns out, if I live to be 80 (and considering my weight, lack of exercise and general health, this is a stretch) I've only got 44 years left, 64 if I live to be 100. I kid you not, that 44 years left me feeling short of breath for a minute or two. I mean I'm only 9 years short of marking the first 44 years and it doesn't looke like there will be another 44 after those are gone. Not to mention since my 20's, time seems to rush by like the line on the road when you look too close and only gets speedier the older I get. Plus, I also realized that if Arabella is anything like me and even if she's not, life happens and she could move back home after college or maybe even after she has a family of her own. I could spend the next 25 of those years trying to get Arabella out of my house and if we have another kid then god only knows how long I'm going to spend raising kids and housing adult children and maybe even their children. That Failure to Launch Movie doesn't seem so funny any more.

When I think of my mortality in this way, it makes me want to smack the next person who says the word "mommy wars" as if becoming a mother, even under the best of circumstances, wasn't the biggest life commitment ever. Bigger than marriage, bigger than mortgages, even bigger than evil cell phone contracts that require a pint of blood and pledging allegiance to faceless wireless entities.

I had no idea what I was in for when I decided to have a kid and it's only 13 years later that I'm actually getting a clue. If there's ever a kid number two, I hope that all I've learned so far actually gets put to some use.

Which makes me wonder, why do we even have kids if we know they're only going to die eventually? Are we so pissed off at life and mortality that we just say, oh well, it's worth producing someone else who's going to go through the pain and humanity of mortality that we just say, screw it and do it anyway. Is life that great that we have to pass it on? Or do we just not think about it. I wonder if it isn't a little cruel to bring someone into the world only to say, "By the way, this isn't permanent you know. We just had a little too much wine one night and decided to screw with the fate of the universe. Maybe you'll be the first human to live forever and if not forever then maybe least as long as Methuselah or the average oak tree. Good luck, kid."

As usual, I digress. I guess, now that I know for sure I'm going to die (no I wasn't really sure before, but now I am) I plan to do as much as I can with the next 20 years of my life. I'm not going to be sky diving or riding a bull named Fu Manchu anytime soon but I definitely plan to do a bit more than I've been doing.


  1. I notice that time goes way too fast lately, yet I don't want to think about my own mortality. I have the "stuff" taken care of, like life insurance, etc, but anything beyond that makes me want to stick my fingers in my ears and yell "lalalalala, I can't hear you!"

    After my mom died 10 years ago, we made a conscious effort to stop putting things off. Sure, I still haven't made it to Russia, but I try to have fun in the moment and try new things.

  2. Oh yes, the mortality issue. It's like you barely think of death until you have children. Then Death stares you down every day, taunting you, saying, "Wanna test me beeyotch."

    I know you're supposed to learn lessons from that. That it's supposed to make you value each day, blah blah blah, but that is easier said than done. We live in a society where everything is bad for us, every new study says something is going to kill us, and if it's not cancer/global warming/car accidents/insert disaster here, it's terrorists or hurricanes. How does anyone process it enough to forget about dying and start living?

  3. Hooo, boy. It's like you just plugged your headphones into my inner monologue.

    I hate thinking about death every single day. It is driving me just a little bit crazy.

    Well, ahem, anyway.



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