My husband and I were discussing the passage of time the other day as we walked Booker. We agreed that there comes a moment of jolting revelation—you realize you have lived more days than you probably have left—that alters one’s thinking. Of course nobody knows how much time they have on this earth, and the common sense approach is to live in the moment. Nonetheless, the awareness that you are now on the other side of life’s timeline summit is a bit sobering.
For my husband this has meant an ordering and organizing that I find disconcerting. I’m not talking about putting the cereal boxes in a row sort of organizing, but last will and testament end-of-life organizing. He wants me to know where the important papers and contacts are “just in case.” I love him for wanting to make sure I will have less to deal with should anything happen to him, and I know he has always followed his Eagle Scout “be prepared” motto. But in my heart it’s his mindset that troubles me. I feel sad every time he talks about when he’s not around anymore. I want him to be thinking of what pleasures are still waiting to be discovered instead of funeral arrangements.
As a child I recall my grandmother telling me which dress she wanted to be buried in. She often talked about how happy she’d be once she joined Grandpa in heaven because she missed him so much. Yet when she was 101 years old, she told me she was afraid. “I don’t want to die Gail; I don’t want to leave yet.” It was heart wrenching to hear. All those years that she talked about death to… what? Make it less frightening? It didn’t work. Grandma had a hard life, but I feel a good life too. She had robust health almost until the end which was just shy of her 102 birthday. Health and longevity are pretty amazing gifts.
Maybe it’s my general outlook. I believe if you expect the best possible outcome that’s what will happen. How can preparing for death, thinking about death, and reading the obituaries searching for “who has left us” be uplifting? I will acknowledge the wisdom of being prepared. However, once the paperwork is put in order and the arrangements made, how about letting go of what might be and celebrating what is?