“Okay! See ya! Don’t die!”
The first time I said that to the Nearly Perfect Husband, he nearly keeled over.
Him: “That’s just creepy.”
Him: “Don’t die?” Pause (because I just looked at him) “Don’t die?“
Me: “Well, you’re going on a plane.”
Him: “Yes. And it is customary to say something like, “Have a safe trip”.
Me: “Which means…..”
Him: (sigh) “Don’t die.”
To be fair, I had just begun to stay home after a decade plus of schmoozy corporate work, where everything negative was turned into a positive.
So, like, if my organization was having a bad month financially, we were “underperforming”.
Or if someone in the organization suddenly developed a penchant for screaming at his fellow employees any time they didn’t agree with him, he was “a management challenge”.
Oh! OH! And if suddenly three people at your level were let go and you had to do the work of all three, and were about to keel over and die from the stress and hours required to do so?
“Merely an opportunity to excel.”
Okay, fine. My friend Kathy said that to me one night at 2 a.m. while we were both still working and I was about to set my hair on fire in protest of the conditions.
What? It would have been a great statement. I was a VP at the time.
Yep. Totally digressed.
Anyway, clearly back then when I said “Don’t die”, the pendulum in my rather crowded and disorganized brain had swung from ‘corporate schmooze’ to “lay it all right out there”.
And I did mean it too (even though I did change it to, ‘Have a nice trip!” because that wish didn’t have him, you know, assuming the fetal position).
But, in my defense, I was being honest. He was getting on a plane, where he would have limited control over its flight and safety. And I didn’t want him to die.
In reality, I thought way back when, there are a lot of things we say every day that, boiled down, translate into “don’t die.”
“Make good choices!”
“Hey, did you check the date on that?”
I’m not sure why we are so afraid of words like death and die. When someone asks me about my dog and I say, “He died.” I am almost always greeted with a smile or a laugh, as if I’m kidding.
If someone asks after a certain family member and my Aunt P. deadpans, “He’s dead.” They do the same thing (before a look of horror crosses their face when they realize that this person actually is dead and they just laughed about it).
Come to think of it, my Aunt P. could be doing that on purpose. Seriously. You’d have to know her.
And, in all fairness, she was talking about her ex-husband.
I actually do get it though.
Saying, ‘stay safe’, ‘drive safely’, ‘have a safe trip’… these are softer, nicer, and not nearly as jarring as ‘don’t die.’
But that’s really what we mean though.
Because we want more time, that’s why.
It doesn’t matter how much we respect death and dying. It doesn’t matter how comfortable we get with the process, or how much we see it as merely a transition to another place – be that the Kingdom of Heaven, another spiritual plane, or another life here on earth.
Most people want more time here – whether they’re three or ninety-three.
And the people who love them want more time with them.
It’s that simple.
A friend of mine is having surgery today.
To fix his ailing heart.
For days, I have seen messages on-line (he is a much-loved man, with a much-loved wife).
Facebook, text messages, and e-mails.
Wishes to be well, and get well.
Wishes about positive thinking and staying strong.
Many are absolutely beautiful. Poems, written messages, photographs.
Some are beautiful in their earnest simplicity.
All are sure to be appreciated by him.
Yesterday afternoon, I was getting ready to drive the three hours from Massachusetts to our place in Maine. The Nearly Perfect Husband, knowing I was worried about my friend, asked me if I wanted to drive the ‘baby car’ to Maine on my own. The baby car is therapy on wheels for me. A small, blue, two-seater convertible that John bought in 2001.
Two hours later, I tossed my camera and my bag in the passenger seat and climbed in.
I unlatched the top and started it up. Then I hit a button and the top settled into place behind me.
I wound my way down the driveway and slipped onto the road.
By the time I shifted into third gear, the wind was in my hair and I was in my head.
And for three hours, I thought a little, and breathed deeply a little, and cried a little.
Because no matter what other thoughts I tried to focus on, I kept coming back to one thought, one wish.
And my eyes would fill.
While others were thinking and sharing, “You’ll be alright” and “Get well” and “Stay strong.”
I was thinking, Please…
Thanks for readin’.
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