Important to know before you read (Mom, I’m looking at you): I know I said I wasn’t going to say what the prompts are – and I’m still not – but just know the assignment here is to PRETEND I am dying in a week. I’m not. I’m fine. For realz.
This fall, like many people, I watched the emerging story of Brittany Maynard, a heart-breakingly young woman with a terminal brain tumor who chose to end her life on her own terms. I watched the videos where she talked about making this choice to spare her family (and herself) the painful last days where the tumor would take over and she would lose control of her mind and her body.
She was so young and so happy and had so much ahead of her. Yet, no, really she didn’t because the end was closing in on her regardless of what she did to react to it. And I thought to myself I could never be so brave in the face of such a situation. To pick an end point and write it on a calendar.
I couldn’t bear to wake up each day thinking there were only X days left, where X was a finite single-digit number.
I don’t much want to die at all. Writing my will made me hugely uncomfortable. I had to talk myself through the whole thing as it if it was fiction. Not about me at all. But I guess ultimately it was.
I am violently opposed to the idea of my kids growing up in some alternative environment (as much as I love those alternative environments and trust them). I don’t want to miss it. I don’t want them to have to miss me.
I don’t want there to be a day where they can’t remember what is was like when I loved them.
What I said in the mornings. The sound of my laugh. The limited range of my singing.
What I cooked. What they refused to eat.
What I wore. What I smelled like (angels kisses, always).
The height of my arms when I wrapped them up.
What it felt like to sit together with our legs tangled up and heads on one another’s shoulders to read books and watch movies.
How I cried at schmaltzy commercials…and emotional writing.
That sounds very me-centric. But hey, if I am dying I get to focus a tiny bit on myself, right?
But really my point there is I don’t want them to feel an absence of me. Which is less about me and more about them not living a life enveloped in a protective motherly bubblewrapping of unconditional love.
There are others who would love them, I know that. But it wouldn’t be the same.
I don’t want the end. I’ve participating in enough endings and only want to be part of beginnings. And middles. Long middles with no end in sight.
I don’t want the thought of me to be a source of sadness.
It seems like having a deadline, knowing the date of the end, might give you a chance to “prepare”. But given a free afternoon I am so paralyzed with the options of what to do that I often wind up going out for a manicure, ice cream, and a trip to Target.
Optimal time utilization is not my forte.
I fear my final week would be a flurry of errands and details and making sure everything is just so before I depart. As if I am going on a lengthy vacation and don’t want to deal with the gross dishes when I get back.
Much as I would want to huddle up somewhere with my people and just love all over them as the clock ticked down. Much as that is the part that only I can do, and exactly what I would want to do, I fear that I would feel the minutes slipping away more acutely if I tried to savor them.
Every minute would be one less minute.
I would more likely spend my time making lists of account numbers and phone numbers and food preferences. I would update that blasted calendar down to the second. I would organize and clean out.
I would probably write a lot of letters. Or I would think about writing a lot of letters. I’m not sure I could really write it all down. But I would try.
I would cry over what wasn’t to be. I worry most that I would be thinking so much about what wasn’t going to happen that I wouldn’t seize those final days to make the most of what is left. I would go out a puffy-eyed, red-nosed blubbering mess. I would not be graceful or brave. I would go kicking and screaming.
Which might be a good strategy for helping people not miss me all THAT much.
Wow, she was a flipping nightmare right till the end. Shiny nails though.
I would want to tie up all of the loose ends. But it just isn’t possible. Even with a whole lifetime ahead there isn’t time to tie every one. Tell everyone. Do everything. End on exactly the right note.
Even talking about this is giving me the shivers. I’m a little concerned that if it sounds like I have a clear plan for how I would handle my fictional end, fate is going to step in and say – well planned, let’s set that in motion.
Dear Universe: I absolutely DO NOT have a plan for my finale. I need more time to figure it out.
Plus, my nails are a mess and the calendar isn’t up to date…
*I’m participating in Write Yourself Alive – a 30 day online writing program – I’ll be responding to the daily prompts here. To respect the program I won’t actually say what the prompt is, so bear with me – this could be pretty random :)