I think about death at least 5 times a day. Is that normal? I don’t know. And it isn’t an obsessive thought more like a fleeting idea, realization, acknowledgement of the inevitability of this event. Recently, I am surrounded by it more and more, but for the most part I am involved in or have heard story of the “perfect” death…the one where families members are near-good-byes are said-all the good stuff because if we have to go-man that is the way to do it. More and more I have felt like talking about death in an honest and frank manner is helping me confront this scary idea.
It really all started when I read Anne Lamott’s, Grace Eventually. Her insight and experience with death and thoughts about her life separate from her son really struck a chord with me. And I admired so much her ability to sit in the moment with her father and friends who were sick and with them in the moments of their death. Reading her made me challenge, my fearful nature and almost deniable thoughts of death.
And kids-oh kids-they shake everything inside me. Those girls living their lives eventually moving away from me more and more-starting their own lives. They will live with or without me. A very surreal idea indeed. That love is painful and awesome all at the same time.
But as much as I think of my kids-my partner, my maine man, my best friend…aggghhhh…right I have no words. Anyway, over vacation I read The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. Wow-and then it was real and raw and WOW! Please read this book. Honestly, about twenty pages, I almost stopped. It was too much. I would sometimes feel my heart racing as I read her words. But I made it through-and again I feel one step closer with being more accepting about this whole thing.
The other day I was driving the kids home from the grocery store and out of the blue, my three year old asked me if I was going to die…and in an instant we were in the middle of this whirlwind of emotion. I said very casually, oh sure-someday–but la-de-da—(at least that is what it sounded like in my head). Ella stated-in a very confident, sure of herself tone-“Oh Molly, everyone dies-to make room for the other people. In a split second-Molly was crying and reaching for me-“I am going to miss you when you die, Mommy.” And I had this wave of sadness and wanting to cry with her and then knowing I needed to get it together. So I said “aw, Molly-love-let’s talk about your day at school.” And just as quick as it started we were on to happier topics.
“I would not leave. I would take care of her. She would be all right. It also occurred to me that this was a promise I could not keep. I could not always take care of her. I could not never leave her. She was no longer a child. She was an adult. Things happened in life that mothers could not prevent or fix….” Joan Didion
Fabulous book. Please read it.