I think about this A LOT!

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.

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9 thoughts on “I think about this A LOT!

  1. a-nugget says:

    I think about it a lot too. I thought about it a lot more when I was a kid. Like constantly. I worried obsessively over our parents dying. I also worried about other stupid crap- like how bad it hurts to have babies. Then I grew up and realized that birth and death both happen everyday and that life would go on….weird huh?

  2. Oy. I’ve been meaning to read that book but it sounds rough.
    I think about it also. It’s getting scary because as we get older there’s only going to be more of it around us.

  3. I thought about it this morning while walking to the PATH and listening to a Radio Lab podcast. It’s kind of complicated to explain, but it involved a 94-year-old man named Leo with some sort of disorder where he hears fully orchestrated version of songs in his head and his crossing out names of loved ones in his address book after they’d passed on. I was crying on the street.

    Also, this is yet another example of how cool your kids are. What a great big sister Ella is!!

  4. barngirl says:

    I think I wrote this PARTLY because I wanted to know I wasn’t alone in my thoughts.

    Ally-I used to be afraid of child birth too…I think I still am…:)

    Colleen-her prose is just awesome though and it makes it bearable. A little funny at times-wry sense of humor.

    Therese-thanks for thinking our kids are cool. Ella has her moments of good sister-dom. And that story sounds like it would make me tear-y too.

  5. meme says:

    Every time another person leaves this relm for the “great beyond” I have thoughts about the finite nature of life. We are all born with nothing and we leave with nothing. The only thing that lasts is how we spent our lives while we were here. Did we make the world a better place? No one is a ” perfect person” but I think we all give that ideal a little more thought as we age. In a sense, I feel that women of a certain generation consider their children as their legacy, more than men do. Probably because that was their main focal point in life, and remains so. There is no end to Motherhood.
    The recent death of D. Butler Shaw also brings up the thought of finite life. How much control do we actually have in the end? He was very fortunate to have a loving son and daughter in law who took such good care of him.
    He lived life to the fullest and in the end opted for a good single malt scotch over all the drugs that he had been taking. Here’s to Butler, a sweetheart of a guy who is missing from the rest of our lives. We will carry on and hope to someday share in his fortune of a good death.

  6. a-nugget says:

    Jeez, I thought some sort of weird maternal “instinct” would kick at some point here and I wouldn’t be quite so terrified of the whole process of child birth……I am still waiting for that

  7. Jen says:

    I read that book about a year ago. InCredible. How she survived those months having lost her husband and then supporting her daughter is beyond me. The strength. The reflecting on it all. The power of their marriage. So amazing. Loved it. I am thinking of the Ben Folds song The Lucky One, the verse about the couple who die in their nineties within a few weeks of each other. I’ll take that version. Death is creeping into our lives more and more. We are getting old enough, I guess. And Eli is starting to ask lots of questions too. Because his friend died this year, he always mentions her and it breaks my heart Every Time.

  8. lazytoadfarm says:

    Beth- I have been lurking around and occasionally check in on your blog. This post has come at the right time for me. I too have been thinking of death (oh I don’t even like saying that word) recently. I don’t know if it is a part of being a new mom and the fear of someday leaving my babies or what. Hopefully it is just a normal feeling that moms get. Just this morning Andy was video taping me with the children and this feeling came over me, like “how should I leave this precious message to my children… just in case”. A couple of years ago a very good friend of mine was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and was told she only had a few months to live. Her doctor told her to start writing letters to her very young daughter. She passed away 4 months later. Her daughter was everything to her and she did not know how she could possibly tell her everything she wanted to tell her. This women will have always planted a message in me to love with everything I have and always cherish every moment I have with my family. I will forever be greatful to her for this. Now I have to go shed a couple of tears.
    Take care and thanks for making me feel like I am not alone with this weird feeling lately.

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