Out of the Loop and totally off topic

4 Jan

I must apologize for not writing much in the month of December. Bob and I decided to put our house on the market, Christmas came quicker than I could imagine, and the whole family spent the better part of two weeks back and forth between colds and one hell of a stomach bug.

I wish I had wonderful news to write about. I don’t. But I have to get this out.  Fertility brings life, and life brings death, and I’ve got death on the brain.  An acquaintance of mine, and the Godmother of my best friend’s son, suddenly passed away last week.  Claire. She was 35. She had an 8 year old boy and 5 year old girl. Heart attack apparently.

My brain needs some good news.  I need fairies, rainbows, marshmallows, hearts, sparkles and ribbons.

This is the second young person that I know that has left us way too soon this year. First, it was my friend Brooke. I met Brooke  through a mutual friend back in 2002 and ended up dating her brother for the better part of a year.

I suppose I’m lucky that in both cases I wasn’t super close to either of the deceased, but close enough that it shook me each time.

Brooke lived at home. She was 33. She came home from work with a splitting headache and went to bed. Her mother woke up later that evening to the sound of Brooke throwing up in bed. By the time she got to her bedroom, she was non responsive. Brain hemorrhage. She was gone like *that.*

In contemplating Brooke’s passing, I immediately felt for her parents. I guess it was lucky (?) that she wasn’t married or had children, because that would mean a few more broken-hearted souls in this world, but one can also argue that it’s a tragedy that she never had the chance to experience those things. At least that’s what I imagine her mother would feel.

Sometimes I catch myself looking at Bea, or playing with her, kissing her, dressing her… and I think “this was Brooke’s Mom 32 years ago.” She had joy and smiles and all the hope in the world for her daughter. She couldn’t wait to see her grow up, become a woman and have children of her own. She wanted nothing more than for her to be happy for all her waking moments. She was giving her kisses just like I’m giving Bea right now, having no idea how short her daughter’s life would be.

I have to tell you, it scares me. Stuff like that gives me a gut-wrenching, agonizingly painful fear. This is why I’m horrible in grief situations. I’m horrible at funerals, viewings and times of sorrow. You know why? Because to admit and speak about how sad the situation is means admitting that its something that can (and in the case of dying, will) happen to me. It’s just a matter of when. So I use humor and try to change the subject. If you’ve ever found me less than supportive in a time of need, this is why. I need to brush past the ugly stuff and move on or I’ll spiral into despair with you.

And then the news about Claire. A heart attack. Random. In this case, I didn’t think of Claire’s parents as I did with Brooke. I thought of her daughter, who will never get to share her prom, her graduation, her wedding day, her first child with her mother. And I think of Claire, who now has to miss out on so much. In the same room, kissing Bea at the very same moment, was Claire, kissing her daughter, worrying over her health, cutting up her Thanksgiving turkey. And now… she’s gone. And I look at Bea and think, “I don’t want you to live a day without me, and I don’t want to live a day without you.” But eventually, one of us will have to.

So, I’m scared of dying. I’m scared of Bea dying. I am scared of Bob dying.  The thought that my daughter has to eventually leave this earth is painfully devastating to me.  Even if it happens when I’m well below the ground… I get teary eyed at the thought of her missing out the way Brooke did… and even moreso when I imagine me missing out the way Claire did. But what can I do?  Here is where the common sense Carrie tells the crazy emotional Carrie to get it together.

What could Brooke and Claire have done to prevent their deaths? The answer is likely nothing. Short of getting a complete body scan every week since birth, there was nothing they could have done to prevent their passing. Scarier, even yet, but at the same time comforting.

Connor is understandably upset about his Godmother dying suddenly.  His mother told him that she is in heaven. I really, really want to believe that both Brooke and Claire are in Heaven.  But it scares me that maybe they’re not.  There are a ton of religions in this world that all believe different things… is it possible none of us is right?  Or all of us?  Or just one of us?  Hell, I’m not even very religious, where does that leave me?   So, yes, the long and short of it is: I’m scared of dying, because I don’t know if it means I’ll ever see Bea again.

This has to be scary for Connor, and for Claire’s children, if its scary for a grown up like me.  So, setting aside the question of what happens when we die, what would sensible Carrie say?  If Connor, or Bea, or Claire’s children came to me and asked if I was going to die soon, or when they were going to die, what would I say without being a complete phony??

Here goes:

  • Everyone dies eventually
  • For most of us, it will be when we are old, and have lived a long life, passing peacefully in our sleep.
  • For some, it will be sooner.   We don’t know what our fates are.
  • So, we do the best that we can to prevent the most obvious things: We wear helmets and seatbelts.  We get regular check ups.  We don’t smoke.  We eat our vegetables.  We wear sunscreen.  We look both ways before crossing the street.   We get our cholesterol checked.  We exercise and try not to become obese.  We don’t run with scissors.
  • Beyond these measures, there isn’t much we can do.  So do we wrap ourselves and our loved ones in bubble wrap and bathe in hand sanitizer every day?  Do we stay locked up in the house out of fear?  I suppose we could, and I’m sure some do.  But that’s not much of a life.
  • If it is your time, its your time (Heaven or not, I do believe this).   And you can’t change that.
  • What you can change is how full your days and nights are between now and that time.
  • So… laugh.  Treat others with kindness.  Worry about yourself, your friends and your family.  If everyone took care of their family and friends, this world would be a better place.  Think of how few homeless and lonely souls there would be.
  • Try new things (yes, kids, this means new FOOD too).  You’ll never be sorry that you tried something, but you darn sure will regret not trying it.  Most opportunities have small windows.
  • Treat yourself right.  In the end, you are your best advocate and caretaker.
  • Try to change someone’s life for the better.
  • Smile often.  You don’t know what sort of day someone else is having, and a kind smile or gesture could mean the world to them.
  • Love unabashedly.
  • Take at least one dance lesson in your life.
  • Don’t apologize for speaking your mind; just learn how to do it without insulting people.
  • Give.
  • Be smart with your money.  Start saving early and don’t carry debt other than student loans, a mortgage and one car payment (preferably not all at the same time).
  • Surround yourself with people that think differently.  You’re only seeing a part of the world if you are with like-minded people all the time.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

This is what I would honestly say to someone who asked me about death.  So this is what I have to tell myself, while I’m feeling scared and unsure of what lay ahead.   I can’t do anything but make each day a good one.  There will be bad days, sure… but they make the good ones all the more.

I went to Claire’s viewing yesterday.  I didn’t want to go at first.  But I did.  I’m glad I did.  I got to say goodbye to Claire and show her husband that we’re all in his corner.  If it were me, I would want to feel surrounded at a time like this.  And then I came home and gave Bea a big fat kiss and a smile.

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One Response to “Out of the Loop and totally off topic”

  1. holly January 4, 2012 at 7:35 pm #

    I love you carrie! You said it just right. Brought a tear and a smile to my heart.

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