This past year I have thought about life and death in a way I never have. Although I can imagine all humans go through waves of considering life and death. For me the death part, specifically my own death, has been very present in my mind. Thoughts and fears of my own death come to me while I sleep, when I am exercising, playing with my kids.
Maybe it's that I am at an age where I have experienced and heard of too many sad stories of sudden deaths, slow tragic ones and natural but very heart wrenching deaths. It has broken through my very tough sense of denial that I am too vulnerable to this thing called death.
Just this morning, our 5 year old snuggled in bed with us. My partner got up to make lunches for the kids and I had a few more precious moments to inhale the sweet smell of my little boy. We started talking about a show we have been watching as a family. It's called Man vs. Wild. The main character was in the army and has survived numerous missions. In the show he places himself in various danger spots around the world as if he is lost and begins to show his audience how to survive.
This may sound like a very strange pick for family t.v. time and it kind of is. My partner and our boys are very rugged types that love the outdoors. They go camping without me. Well I have gone on occasion but it's not my thing. My thing is to take the boys on adventures to hotels. We discover uncharted territories of swimming pools, hot tubs and free breakfasts.
My partner loves to teach our boys about the art of "surviving" on the camping trips. She is a master at setting up tents, can cook gourmet meals on the fire, knows exactly what to pack and wear for any climate and can fix almost anything. The fixing thing comes more in handy around the house rather then camping, just wanted to add it as an amazing fact about her.
So back to the crazy show. For 40 minutes we all watch this man eat fish straight out of the water, climb down steep water falls, paddle through sharp icy glaciers, swim through sub zero water, slice open a dead zebra and eat it raw and so many other fun activities all to stay alive. The moment the show came on for the first time, our boys announced that I would hate it.
Ahah! I did not. I found myself as transfixed as they were. It is obsessively compelling to watch him put his life in danger and survive every time. It is also comforting that he has a entire film crew with him. On one show we spotted a hand of one of the crew members. The boys repeat this part many times. It's as if that person's hand was proof that Bear, (that is actually the show host's name), would always be o.k.
So back to my sweet time with our 5 year old snuggling in bed.
(This is where the beginning warning comes in people).
He begins to tell me about the episode he watched with the babysitter the night before and how Bear knew to sleep in the trees at night so the predators would not get him. I asked if Bear was saved from the Alligators at the end. My son said that he is always saved when the show ends even if we don't see it.
I think I said something off the cuff that I myself wouldn't survive if I got dropped in Alligator land. Not realizing the impact of my words, I turned to look at a little boy with tears in his eyes.
He quietly said "but Mama. . . what if I miss you?"
Now with both of us in tears, I said that I will always be with him even if I am no longer on Earth. He then said, "but . . . what if I miss you".
All of me wanted to lie and say that I would never die but I couldn't. So I said, "you can talk to me and I'll hear everything you tell me". Then he said, as if pushing the knife in slowly, "but. . . what if I miss you?".
I gave up trying to give him solutions and just said, "I will miss you too little one".
The two of us lying in bed crying with 20 minutes to get ready for school. Really not good. What were we to do?! Finally I remembered the new novel my Sister, his Aunt is writing. The book is about a 12 year year old Indian girl who lives in the time of The Partition of British India which resulted in the newly constituted states of India and Pakistan.
The book is a series of journal entries that the main character writes to a Mother she never knew as she died in childbirth. The heartache the girl feels growing up without her Mother is somewhat soothed each time she writes to her "Mama" in the Journal. She writes each night.
I told my son about all this and that he could do the same and write to me every night.
He was quiet after that, wiped his tears and went to go eat his oatmeal.
Today is my turn to pick our boys up from the bus and have the afternoon with them. My intention. . . to appreciate every single second.
Thank you for reading this.
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your own stories.