Category Archives: September 11th

Six Years Ago I Was Dead

The other day, Dylan said to me, “Six years ago I was dead.”  We were at the gas station.  I was pumping gas, and Dylan and Riley were hanging out the window.

I replied, “No, you weren’t dead.  You just weren’t born yet.”

Then he said, “I was dead when I was in your belly.”

I replied, “No, you weren’t.  You were growing inside of me.”

Then he said, “Look, I’m dead,” and his body went limp.

Then Riley said, “Look, I’m dead, too,” and he went limp next to his brother.

“Neither of you are dead,” I said.

Then Dylan said, “Two years ago I was dead and now I’m back.”

After that zinger, I changed the subject.

The ease with which my kids talk about, think about, and imitate death astounds me.  Equally surprising is the ease with which I talk about it with them.  Dylan has, on many occasions, asked me about death (thankfully he’s only had to mourn a fish so far), and I’ve had some pretty darn good answers (if I do say so myself).  The problem is that underneath my super cool, no big deal this-is-what-happens-when-you-die exterior, I’m a hot, flaming mess.

You see, death is one thing.  Dying is another.  I don’t even like it when my boys go to birthday parties without me.  How am I supposed to die?  How am I supposed to be gone?  Forever?  Holy crap.

I don’t know what happens after we die.  (Maybe Dylan was dead before he was born.)  Even more unsettling is that, if I’m being totally honest, the theory I consider to be the most likely is that nothing happens, which doesn’t leave me much to hang a hat on.

So, how exactly does one prepare for the end?  For nothingness?  And as long as I’m on the subject, what’s my purpose and why am I here?

Wait.  I’m sorry.  Do you think I have answers to these questions?  Ha!  If I contemplate for just a few seconds the notion that the earth is a speck of dust in an infinite universe, my chest tightens and I can’t catch my breath.

I don’t like being out of control, which is why general anesthesia is so hard for me and why life’s lemons propel me to clean out closets and organize cabinets (or at least go shopping for these projects at the Container Store).  Every aspect of death – from how to when to where to why – is a crapshoot, so I can’t embrace it any more than I can Dylan going to sleepaway camp or – gulp – driving a car.

I’ve lost my fair share of loved ones.  Their lives and deaths have not only given purpose to mine, but also amplified theirs.  I cherish the memories I have of them, the perspective they impart, the lessons they pass on, and the endless wisdom they share, even in death.   Whether I know it or not, my children and loved ones will have the same experience after I’m gone, which is a beautiful proposition, but it’s the “whether or not I know it” part with which I struggle.

I don’t believe in anything enough to surrender to it.  After 9/11, I desperately wanted to believe in something to make sense of why I was alive and others were dead, and I felt something eerily similar after my molar pregnancy.  In the end, though, these tragedies didn’t give me faith; rather they made me keenly aware of what I don’t believe.  I don’t believe in fate, I don’t believe in a plan, and I don’t believe things happen for a reason, all of which make dying a tricky proposition.

I certainly hope that by the time I’m an old lady – assuming I have the great fortune of growing old – I’ll have adopted a belief in something other than nothing or become exhausted enough with life to accept what does or doesn’t happen next.  In the meantime, I’ll obsess over the wrinkles developing in my cleavage (true story) and how my hands are starting to look like my mom’s (sorry mom), and I’ll live my life how I want my children to live theirs and how I want their children to live theirs and how I want their children’s children to live theirs.   Chest tightening.  Can’t catch breath.  And when overwhelming thoughts of death, nothingness, infinity, and my children’s children’s children take hold, I’ll do what I did after Dylan said, “Six years ago I was dead.”  I’ll change the subject.  Or, I’ll go to the Container Store.  (Ahh.)

watersunpark

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Filed under anxiety, conversations to remember, death, molar pregnancy, September 11th, shopping

Resolution

I have one New Years Resolution this year.  Just one.  It helps that I painted my bedroom this past weekend, a “to do” that’s been on my radar for over two years.  It also helps that reading and running (mind clearing and creativity producing activities) will (hopefully) aid me in achieving my solitary resolution.

Here goes… My singular (monstrous, exhilarating, terrifying, crazy-ass) New Years Resolution is to write a book.  The Book.  There.  I said it out loud.  The current working title is Holy Crap, Am I Really Doing This?  (For the record, I’m also considering The Runaway Mama.)

This isn’t the first time I’ve had an idea to write a book.  No, my brilliant botched book proposals go way back.  Mike jokes that I was born with a book idea.  For instance, I Didn’t Go Through The Tunnel: A Memoir Of A Cesarean Baby.  Or, Coping With An Older Sibling Who Wants To Murder You.  (It’s a true story that my sister stuffed a box of raisins in my mouth when I was a baby).

For all of my inspiration over the years, I never expected motherhood to be the thing that finally gave me my voice.  In honor of The Book, here is a list of all of the failed (but earnest) book ideas that, for some reason or another, led me here.

First, there was an untitled “how to” book about being young, living it up and paying the bills in The Big Apple. The only snag was that my parents were supporting my Bloomingdale’s and Bumble & Bumble habit and paying half of my rent every month.  Then came Lift Your Leg From The Foot And Other Life Lessons (a working title), a book about all of the life lessons I learned in the dance studio.  Good idea, but it’s taken years to realize all of the lessons and I’m not nearly done.

Later came the idea for a book of poetry on the sadness and regret I felt about morphing from an aspiring modern dancer into a public relations professional with a cubicle.  (Rent and health insurance was a bitch!)  One of many problems with that book idea was that I’m not a poet.

You would think the depressing poetry anthology was my rock bottom.  You would be wrong.  Next came the idea for A Year of Un-gratitude.  It was just after 9-11, everything was scary and kind of sucked, and I was one pessimistic, CNN-obsessed chick.  The flaw?  I couldn’t sustain the cynicism.  Believe me, it was a grim time, but I was also newly engaged and planning my wedding.  On September 1, 2002, I had a New York City wedding with all of the personal touches I wanted, and not surprisingly, I had a novel idea to write How To Plan The Wedding You Want.   Because there weren’t enough of those books on the shelves at Barnes & Noble!

Soon after, my book aspirations went dormant.  In the summer of 2004, when we packed up seven years of New York City/Brooklyn life in less than three weeks to move to Miami, you might suspect I had an itch to write a “starting over,” “surviving new city culture shock,” “kick-starting a nonprofit career,” or “making new friends at 30” book.  I didn’t.  In 2005, I tried to write about my molar pregnancy, but my emotions were too raw.

As it turns out, this blog was my awakening.  For more than two years, it’s been an incredible opportunity to make all of my experiences – including the ones that inspired my crappy book ideas – relevant.  Even if I wasn’t actually born with a book idea, perhaps I was born to write a book.

“Everybody has a calling, and your real job in life is to figure out what that is and get about the business of doing it.” – Oprah Winfrey

In 2013, I’m getting about my business.  I’m writing a book.

Dear marathon, five ten pounds, family photo albums, scrapbooks, and backyard garden:

We’ll meet again in 2014.

Sincerely,

The Runaway Mama

What are your resolutions for 2013?

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Filed under book, motherhood, New Year's resolutions, New Years, Oprah, September 11th