Now that I’ve set up shop on the other side of 50, I have to say I talk about death a lot more than I did in my younger days, like when I was 48.
The topic arises at the most ridiculous times, too, say, in the deli line or mid-Pap smear. I think I probably float the topic so often because it makes me less panicked at the concept. Actually, it’s not a concept but a fact, which scares me even more. If I had the option of dying, that might be better.
My friend Anne recently rescued a dog named Calvin. He’s the type of dog I’d never own because I’m a delicate flower, and we fragile souls have big allergies. I’m able to have only petite, hypoallergenic dogs, not “real” dogs, as my children so often point out.
Anyway, Anne brought her newest child to my house for an introduction but from afar. No sense making friends with Calvin and following that up with an epic asthma attack. That would be hazardous to my friendship with both Anne and her dog, with a messy trip to the ER and an IV drip.
My youngest son was on that dog like magnet to steel. He swooned. Over a dog! A real dog. He wants a pit bull/something mix more than he wants me apparently. Because when she left he turned to me, hands on hips, and proclaimed, “Once you die, we’re totally getting a real dog like Calvin.”
WHEN I DIE? I have to be careful when I say “over my dead body” to this kid when he requests something asinine, such as a $200 pair of sneakers or a balanced meal, because this may be an open invitation to pepper my Tang with antifreeze. He lifts that one eyebrow to the sky, and his brain works overtime contemplating the possibilities.
My children host a constant loop of conversation that goes like this:
“Mom. You talk so much. Take a break. Can you stop for, like, two minutes? I wish you had a mute button. I would use that remote right now and hit mute three times.”
I snap, “Look, when I’m dead and gone you’ll get all the silence you need. YOU WILL PRAY to hear my chatter again! PRAY, I tell you! My urn will not answer you!”
If I was hoping to feed into their guilt and shame, I could’ve saved my breath. They’ve all mastered the under-the-breath insult (even better than I), and I know I heard: “Silence is golden.” I just know it.
Here is what else I know for sure: If I should die before I wake, give my children the dinner to make. You know why? They can’t!
If I’m gone, they’re up s*&%’s creek with no freaking paddle and a can of spray cheese. They don’t even realize just how much they depend on me, my awesome mothering and my endless conversation.
Kids, love your mothers! Once we’re gone, there’s suffocating silence. You’ll wish for one more day of irritating chitchat.
You will not say: “Ding, dong, the witch is dead.”
You will say, “If only I could unstick that mute button and press rewind.”