I remember years ago looking at my high school website. People had written in with updates on their lives: marriages, kids, accomplishments at work.
And I thought, what would I write? I'm not married, have no kids, and have no notable accomplishments. I'm just...living. Nothing notable.
So I wrote nothing.
This is exactly how I feel right now. Except that I'm married and I have two kids. But recently someone asked me what was new and I was all, uh? Um? We had fish sticks instead of chicken nuggets for dinner?
It's not negative, it's just not notable. So much of life isn't notable. Until it is.
Nick's grandfather died in the wee hours of the first day of the year. This year, he'd have been 100. He'd lived a big life, and it was past time.
One of the highlights of his life was being on a WWII minesweeper. He wound up as captain after all the officers above him had been killed. He said when the war was over, they were told to get rid of all their ammunition. So they drank liquor and exploded things all the way home. Most fun he'd ever had.
I don't suppose you could ever recreate that.
He had declined greatly in recent years, to the point where he needed round-the-clock care just to stay alive. Which isn't living.
Because of him, and because it is the biggest number he can begin to grasp, Jordan is very preoccupied with 100.
"Mama, who is going to get to 100 first? You or me?"
I tell him I will get there 40 years before him. I do not tell him how unlikely this seems. I do not tell him how my nose prickles and I have to fight back tears when I think of not being able to be there for the entirety of his life. But this is what we hope, you know? That our kids live fully and outlive us.
In December, a first grader in his school died. The school sent an email home telling us, with guidelines for talking to kids about death.
We didn't think Jordan knew him, so we didn't mention it. We waited to see what he'd do. And he told us that one of the kids at his school had died. We talked about how he was sick, and how sometimes that happens, but not very often.
I was worried that Jordan would fret about dying, but that doesn't seem to have happened.
One day he said that one of his friends told him that John (not the real name of the child who passed) was up in outer space floating around. I didn't correct him, because it's kind of a nice thought, and I suppose it's someone's interpretation of Heaven.
In fact, I bet my dad wouldn't mind if he were up in outer space, floating around. He'd have liked to go.
Me, if I had the opportunity to take a rocket to space, I wouldn't do it. I know it's actually so full, but the dark emptiness of no oxygen, no light, these are what press on me. The darkness scares me. I've listened to Space Oddity too many times.
I don't want to leave the sun and the air, even for a grand adventure.
Years ago I had a boyfriend who was a submariner, and he took Betty and me on a tour of his submarine. It was extraordinary. And in the end, we got to look through the periscope.
And Betty said, "Oh! It's even better than the zoom on my camera!"