The ‘aging badly’ category

Chronic Mortality

January 27th, 2022

I missed most of bedtime because I was on a school board meeting, but when I walked into my daughters’ room at 8:30, Eliza didn’t waste any time getting right to the point:

“So if you know you’re going to die, should you just walk toward the cemetery?”

This might sound like a macabre question, but my daughter has inherited her dad’s pragmatism and her mom’s striving for efficiency. She just hasn’t worked out what happened between death and cemeteries. Jon and I are still laughing about this moment days later.

Those of you who know my tendency to over explain things will be relieved to hear I did not get into embalming and cremation with her. Mainly because I am on the fence about it myself, what with green burial trending — and someone just told me about water cremation. Cool.

Yup, this is what I think about these days. I am fifty.

My daughters, though, are seven and full of amazing questions and perspectives. Part of the reason I write this down every week is to have a record. My memory is shit, and I want to be able to share this with them later on.

Speaking of the crushing sense of my own mortality, I feel slightly sad about how quickly I’ve adjusted to taking rapid tests all the time just in case this lingering, chronic feeling-like-shit way of life might actually turn out to be COVID one of these days. 

Planning vacations is the way I maintain a modicum of optimism. At any given time, I have three or four planned for the next six months. Sometimes, they happen. But often, I cancel the reservation in time to get a full refund. I have friends who think it’s psychotic to program “cancel vacation” into my Reminders as an ongoing habit. I strongly disagree. I think it’s hope. Besides which, nothing says 2022 like taking a rapid test while waiting on hold to cancel another unrealistic vacation I wistfully planned. 

Also, there is my deep, deep fixation with the lighting in this crappy old house. The other day, when I casually mentioned to Jon that another lamp I had ordered a while back was finally going to arrive, he said, “Do you really think we need another lamp?” To which I bit his head off. 


We need another lamp. We need to plan more vacations. We need a table dedicated to craft projects [types furiously into the Facebook Marketplace rabbithole]. We need to mail order bourgie snacks. We need to get really good at Wordle as if it means something. We need to bake cakes for no reason. We need to hoard coffee instead of toilet paper, at this point. We need to adopt a very liberal attitude toward taking ibuprofen. And by ibuprofen I sort of mean xanax. We need to learn how to make spanakopita. We need to embrace the idea of breakfast cookies. We need to get into deep discussions with our best friends over whether young Paul Newman was hotter than young Marlon Brando. We need to discover songs that make us shiver and listen to them really loud in the car, alone. We need to take our crossword puzzles very, very seriously as those New Yorkers pile up beside the bed. We need to crack jokes in work meetings about our terrible parenting these days. 

We need all the distractions right now.


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