It surprises me sometimes that I am still learning. Not facts, per se, but learning pieces of wisdom. Or even, opening a new room in my brain, my emotional self, my soul, that I hadn't even explored. There are whole possibilities to my life that I haven't even spent time delving into before. It boggles the mind and to be quite honest, takes up a lot of mental space during a day when I am supposed to be getting other things done. Like, ahem, work.
Lately, the topics of death and mortality have been creeping into my brainspace. The reality of it all. The inevitability that someone has to go first: either the people I care for, or me, myself. One of us will have to go through the other's death (unless an asteroid hits my house or some freak accident happens where more than one person is involved). It's not a super fun topic, but it's real.
I've never had anyone close to me die. Two of my grandparents passed away before I ever knew them. When I was in high school, my 4th grade teacher died and my choir sang at his funeral. It was the first funeral I'd ever attended. Two Decembers ago, my grandpa died and I went to that funeral. I have some childhood memories of him, but I never really knew him either. The hardest part of going to his funeral was watching my dad (who wasn't really close to grandpa either) grieve for his own father and knowing that someday I will have to witness the death of my parents.
I recently read The Ghost Map-- a strange book choice for me. It is about the cholera outbreak that happened in London in the mid 1800s, and touches on urban planning, microbial biology, epidemiology, the history of science, and other subjects that are far out of my usual scope of thought. I found it fascinating and grotesque. The night after I read the chapter describing the first victim in that outbreak, an infant, and the sickening details of how people die from the water-borne disease, I had an extreme case of the heebie-jeebies. Those people had no idea what was happening to them, and once they got sick, they died very quickly. I felt vulnerable. I was scared of losing my children. I was scared to drink the glass of water by my bed.
The thought of losing a dear one has always given me pause. How would I react? Is there any way to prepare myself for it?
In the first few years of knowing Ben, I was so afraid of losing him. Not because he would break up with me or leave me for someone else, but because I was afraid he would die. It frightened me.
I hadn't given the idea much thought for years, until yesterday. I stumbled upon the blog of someone I know in real life. The mother of two of Addison's school friends. She and her sweet boy-girl twins came to Addison's birthday party and I have chatted with her briefly at preschool potlucks. In passing, I had wondered why I never saw the kids' dad, but obviously it was none of my business. I quickly got sucked into her blog. Her husband died when the twins were very young. And somehow she manages through her grief.
It has given me a lot to think about. The ways my life would be different if Ben were suddenly gone. The un-fun things I would have to handle on my own. The logistics. And oh, how I would miss Ben terribly. I would miss his corny jokes and loving touches, his daily receipts and coins around the house in piles from his pockets, his flirty gestures and cooking biscuits and bacon and whipping up terrible homemade cocktails.
I don't know how to end this post. There is no proverbial ribbon to wrap this up and make anybody who has suffered a loss feel better. I wish there was.
I guess I better get off the computer and go snuggle with my husband.