Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Cause in my head there’s a greyhound station where I send my thoughts to far off destinations

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 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!"

Pretty much.


  1. But... just think of all the snacks you'd be able to justify if you were going to space! SO much more than a regular flight. :D

    1. Necessarily! Because, you know, death! :)

    2. Would you go if given the chance, Jess?

    3. So long as I get to (1) bring Nutella and/or cookie butter with me, and (2) come back when I run out, I think I would. It would be scary, but I think it would be worth it.

    4. It seems to me that those are totally reasonable things to bring, and that you ought to be able to come back when you want to.

  2. I always think my life is so boring. Until I fall ill or the holidays come. And then I long for boring. I wouldn't like the space adventure either. Too cold and barren, like North Dakota. When I die Id love to be cremated and buried under a palm tree or mixed in the sand of a nice warm southern california beach.

    1. Yes. Life is boring until you are in some space that makes you realize that actually, you have it really good. I definitely want to be cremated, but not sure what I'd like done with my ashes. Warm place for sure.

  3. ooeer, I couldn't think of anything worse that going to space. Except going underground as a miner. Actually I'm not sure which is worse, but whenever I'm unhappy I always say one of two things, at least I don't have diarrhea. And if I do have diarrhea then I say at least I'm not an underground miner.

    I feel so awful for the parents of that child who died. I can't even let my mind go there.

    My kids are obsessed with death at the moment.

    And my 3 year old says Jesus lives on the moon with the aliens. So maybe that's where we all go.

    1. Oh, Miranda, you make me laugh! I would always rather have diarrhea than throw up. That to me is way worse.

      Yikes. Underground as a miner is terrifying as well. I'm going to start saying that. I used to say, at least I'm not a rag picker, which are children in India who pick through garbage. I haven't thought of that in a long time, actually.

      I'm oddly OK with the floating in space thing once I'm dead. So the moon with the aliens seems palatable.

  4. There are a ton of quote that start out with "Life is what happens..." I think that the mundane things in life are rather extraordinary. If you think about all of the things that need to come together to put that pasta on your plate, or for the light to turn on when you flip the switch, or to make that toy firetruck... wow.

    Also, I would go to space in a heartbeat...


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