Thursday, August 26, 2010

a mixed-up post on dying and living and buying hamburgers for hungry people

This has been a...................week.

Last Friday, my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and two of my nieces were in a wreck.  An icky wreck.  A scary wreck.  A wreck that involved broken bones and concussions and a life flight helicopter ride to Wesley Hospital in Wichita.  We are ever-so-thankful that, though they are battered and bruised (both physically and emotionally), they are all going to be OK. 

The thing is--I love my family, and I would like to have them around me for a long, long time.

It seems like death and near-death have been hovering over us a bit too closely lately.  A couple of weeks ago my aunt died, and while I hadn't seen her in several years, she was my grandma's older sister, and she looked a little too much like my grandma lying there in that casket. 

I can't even go to that place..........
I love my grandparents so much.  They can't ever die.
So there.

And then that same week I had two friends whose grandmothers passed away.

And another friend lost her mom.

And then the scary wreck was last week.

And then two days ago two of my grandparents' best friends died in a car crash. 

I don't like to be reminded of death.  Sometimes Jack freaks me out when he talks about death.  Here's a conversation we had yesterday (when, it should be noted, I was smitten with a sinus headache, was lying on the couch with a blanket over my head, and there is a small chance I could have muttered that I thought I was dying.  I can't exactly remember):

Jack: Mama, are you died?
Me: No.
Jack: Are you dying Mama?
Me (this is when I start to worry that he has some sort of 6th sense about things): No.
Jack: Is Daddy dying you, Mama?
Me: No (although, now that I think about it, was there a bit of a medicinal taste in my blueberry smoothie?  Did my coffee wash down with a bitter aftertaste?  I don't think so.  I'm pretty sure Matt doesn't want to kill me).
Jack: Am I dying, Mama?
Me: No.

Then, he went over to a toy of his sister's, promptly ruined it, and the words that (I kid you not) came out of my mouth were, "Your sister is going to kill you."


Inside I was cringing.  And laughing a tiny bit.  And perhaps crying a bit, too.

Dying scares me.  I know I'm not supposed to be afraid of death.  On a technical, theological level, I'm not.  But in real life, I'm scared to death....of death.  I don't want to die, and I don't want anyone else I love to die either.  I get so scared sometimes that my kids or husband or other family member is going to be taken away from me, or that I am going to be taken away from them.  Sometimes, I really start to obsess about this.  Sometimes, I make myself nearly crazy.  It doesn't help that I still have flashbacks from the day that Jack fell backwards off of our porch, which knocked him out and fractured his skull.  As he lay on the ground staring blankly up at the sky, I thought he was dead.  And as I sit here writing this, I still start to cry.  I will never, ever get over that moment.  And I will forever follow him around with outstretched arms to catch him...just in case he falls again.  But always, in the back of my fearful mind, I know that my arms may not be there to catch him the next time he falls.  Or the next time Amelie hangs upside down on the monkey bars.  Or the next time Matt drives his motorcycle.  Or the next time I strap my kids in and merge onto the highway.

I used to not care so much.  It used to be that eros and thanatos, the death instinct and the life instinct, kind of fought for dominance inside of me.  I remember weighing 95 lbs, struggling with an eating disorder, and having my therapist ask me rather incredulously, "You do know you are killing yourself, don't you?"  Well yes, in fact, I did know that.  And somehow I didn't care.  And then there were some really difficult grad school days, and there was a hospital stay, and it was at that time that that scrappy life instinct, eros, start fighting a little bit harder than that destructive instinct, thanatos. 

And today I hang onto that life instinct for dear life.  I don't want to let it go.  Sometimes I want to lock my family into a giant bubble where I can keep an eye on them with 24-hour surveillance.  I would feed them only the best, purest foods.  I would train them in self-defense.  If they left the bubble I would outfit them in protective gear worthy of a riot, a flood, a war, and any other natural or man-made disaster. 

I should probably stop now, huh?  ;)

I am going to end with something happy and positive and worthy of whipped cream and sprinkles: Matt just went out to buy me some sinus medicine, and when he came back he said, "Honey, I'm home!  But I'm kind of late.  I sort of met a guy."  I stopped typing, looked up at him, and waited for the story.  I wasn't surprised, really. He's always "meeting a guy."  So he had met this guy.  His house had been broken into.  He had no food.  He wanted cash.  Matt had none.  So he took him out and bought a meal for him, his wife, and his daughter, with enough leftover for his daughter to take to school tomorrow.  There are those of you who think that this guy just asked Matt for money because he wanted money for cigarettes or beer.  And you know what?  You could be right.  But Jesus, talking about dividing up his true followers from the false ones, said, "I was hungry, and you fed me.  I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was naked, and you clothed me."  He didn't say, "I was hungry, but you made sure you checked my tax form before you fed me.  I was thirsty, but you made sure I didn't have beer-breath first.  I was naked, but you checked first to see how long I had been living on a government stipend." 
Tonight, I'm going to hang onto this story.  This example of the life-instinct, this example of love for a fellow human being, which, when it comes down to it, is all that really matters anyway.


  1. We are so desperate, aren't we? And our grasp is so tenuous. I love how you ended this post, and I also identify with what you said before, even though I haven't been confronting death as much as you have lately. Love you, Jill.

  2. xoxox...i'm not sure i know of anyone more professionally or personally devoted to fostering and facilitating the life-instinct. you, madame, appear to be right where you belong...

    OH. and make sure jack doesn't ask lc if she is dying jace. because, i fear the answer would be an emphatic "yes."