Death has no eyes

Is there an idea or thought that hangs over you like a perpetually cloudy day? When I became a mother three years ago, I suddenly realized the weight of my life. I suddenly had REAL responsibilities (not that my responsibilities were fake or insignificant before I became a mother) that would impact my children. Consequently, I became filled with anxiety about so many things--the job I had, the house we lived in, the food we ate, the places we took our kids to, the relationships we built around our family. When I became a mother, life felt REAL. It felt heavy and consequential. But there's one idea/thought/fear that has won out as being the biggest, most scary...

life without my husband.

Our marriage isn't perfect, but it's healthy. I don't fear divorce like so many other couples. I fear losing my husband too soon to death. My husband's dad died when he was 44. My husband was ten years old when he said good-bye to his dad. My husband's grandpa was also 44 when he died. 

Today my husband attended a funeral for a colleague who passed away from cancer. He was only 36. 

He left behind a wife and three sweet babies (one of which was in my son's class). My husband texted me after the funeral while I was at work to tell me that it was more difficult than he thought it would be. I called him right away, and his voice cracked when he explained how difficult it is to realize that these three kids would grow up without their dad. I think he remembered the pain of missing his own dad while growing up. 

And I keep thinking about this man's wife. I have to swallow a lump in my throat and blink back tears each time I think of it. I can't begin to imagine the pain she must feel. 

I turned 30 this week, and Nate and I realized that I have spent a third of my life with him. Save for my immediate family, Nate is the only other person who has stuck with me over the years. I met Nate when I was 18 years old and in my first year of college. We were in a few choirs together, and I took notice of his clean-cut appearance, how often he laughed, and how many people seemed to like him. He was doing practicum work that year at a few schools, so he was always in a shirt and tie--a clear contrast to my holey-leather moccasins, my love for Clove cigarettes, and my Bohemian spirit. There was just something about Nate that I was immediately attracted to despite our visible differences.We started dating at the end of my first semester of college, were engaged by the time I started my second year of college, and were married by the time I started my third year of college. I became an adult with Nate.

He taught me how to pay bills, how to not run away from conflict, how to persevere during times when I only want to eat chips and watch every Gilmore Girls episode. He teaches me to fight for things I believe in and for the people I love. He teaches me what it means to love unconditionally when he still loves me even after I throw away something important of his. He's mellowed me out and helps me to see the bigger picture. He kills trash-can possums*. He keeps me grounded. He washes all my dirty dishes and fixes things when they're broken and mows our big-ass lawn. He encourages me to take risks and lets me know that it's okay to mess up. He helps me to be patient when he leaves his shoes all over the house (seriously, why does he have so many damn shoes?!?). He laughs at my jokes, and his wit has rubbed off on me. 

We looked much younger 10 years ago...

Today, Nate is nearly 10 years from 44. And I keep thinking of a line from one of my favorite novels, The House on Mango Street. In this section, the narrator--a girl of about 10 years--processes her aunt's death:

"[...] I think diseases have no eyes. They pick with a dizzy finger anyone, just anyone..." (Cisneros 59). 
I know that like diseases, death has no eyes--that it picks people who don't deserve it, people who are too young to die...and this is what scares me.

*This winter I found almost grabbed a possum that was playing possum (so predictable...really, possums need to up their game) in a trash can in our garage. I was emptying it into our real trash can so the garbage company would take it. My hand grazed its fur because I thought it was one of our dog's old toys...it wasn't our dog's old toy. It was a real live, hissing, bitey possum. I begged Nate to just kick the can over so the angry little fella could run to the cornfield near our house, but he told me it would eat the kids. 

1 comment:

Harmony V said...

I, too, struggle with the idea of losing my husband while my kids are still young. My sister passed away this past January leaving behind her daughter at the age of 3 and beloved husband of 10 years. The harsh reality is that disease does pick the young and the good and it really sucks. But, choosing to make the most of each moment is the best antidote to this kind of debilitating fear. Thanks for this truth packed post! <3