In the last week or so, a former teacher of mine lost her father, a college acquaintance lost his wife, and a co-worker lost her brother.
It makes a person think.
I’ve been lucky. I haven’t experienced any real loss in my almost 40 years. I’ve had pets die, of course; and my Granny, my ex-stepdad Tom, my Memaw, my Great-Uncle Charlie, my Uncle Donnie, my step-Gary. Most of those didn’t affect me as profoundly as they could have, for various reasons. I haven’t experienced loss like my husband has; he’s still got his brother, but apart from that, Aaron kind of feels like the last man standing at this point.
I haven’t lost anyone where it hurts. I mean, I miss them all, of course, but I haven’t lost anyone while I was sharing a household with them. The closest thing I can think of — and this may sound weird and possibly insensitive in context — was probably when Tom’s dog, Joey, got hit by a car when I was in Junior High. That gave me weird dreams and double-takes for quite some time.
I was pretty devastated by Tom’s death when I was in college, but I hadn’t seen him in months (which was one reason why I called the night I learned he had died — just to touch base).
Memaw’s actual death didn’t hit me as hard as it could have, because the cancer treatment combined with her age made it seem as if she were already gone — not quite herself, not quite there anymore. I had been missing her for months, especially as I had been planning the wedding I knew she would be unable to attend (she died as we were returning from our honeymoon).
And when my step-Gary died, he and my Mom had been living in Texas for something like 10 years, so it wasn’t something that affected me on a daily basis. Plus, it wasn’t unexpected, as he had been ill for years.
I can’t imagine losing someone whose face you used to see every day. It was strange enough helping Aaron and his brother clean out their Dad’s house, watching them decide which things to keep and which to donate, associating memories with all the bits of accumulated stuff.
If Aaron got blindsided by a semi tomorrow, I’d be lost. Just thinking about never seeing him again… Shit, even just hypothetically, I can’t deal. I think about it, and I just — nope.
On top of losing my best friend, I’d have to figure out how to move on, logistically speaking, as we have little to no local support network of friends and family. Not like some people do. Financially, I’d make it work somehow, considering life insurance and savings and whatnot, but what of the simple day-to-day things, like not having an emergency backup to pick up Connor from preschool if I get stuck in traffic? On top of, you know, grieving.
And what if it were me? Especially after helping with my father-in-law’s estate, I think about silly things like how messy my computer desk at home is, or my closet, and how I don’t want Aaron to have to deal with sorting all that junk into boxes or garbage bags. I think about my passwords, and my blog, and how I haven’t printed and bound my online journals like I keep meaning to, for posterity, to store with my longhand journals. I think about the home videos I haven’t edited together into anything yet, all the snippets of memories stored on my phone or my hard drive.
And I think of Aaron, and wonder how he’d cope with everything without caving in on himself.
My brain just goes a million directions, and simultaneously tries to process and is unable to process all the possibilities. What if it were Connor? What if it were Mom?
I have been so incredibly lucky. But someday, my luck will end, and I’ll have to deal with death close-up.
And it scares me.