Grief

Intense Courtship with Mortality

Pure Luck's BFF has been a friend for almost 30 years, since they met in a computer science class in high school. We see him often when Pure Luck is home, and he has been the best dog/cat and house sitter ever when I sneak away to visit Pure Luck during his work seasons. He climbed the mountain with us when we got married almost six years ago.

So it was with a grim expression that Pure Luck heard BFF's sad news this week about the sudden death of his father. Today we had lunch with our friend and heard him tell the story of his father's death, and we heard about his siblings, how his brother backed into his car yesterday in the driveway of the family home, and we felt the thud of his truck bumper against our house, hitting an outdoor spigot, heard him knocking on the window to call us to his aid.

For both of us it's the season of remembering a beloved parent, remembering the times when you just aren't quite right, when the world is out of balance because your daddy is gone, because you will never hear your mother's voice again. Pure Luck's mom died in September of 1997, just before her birthday, and my dad died in early October of that year, not long after his, so this already the time of year we think most of both of them, wistfully.

I remember talking with Pure Luck about his mother's death, soon after we met; I remember how he cried when he spoke of her, three years later. The heart disease that runs in his family took her at 57, and so in his thirties began his own intense courtship with mortality.

Of course it's on my mind, too. I'm coming to terms with having an illness, an ailment, a condition…call it what you will…that will be part of the rest of my life. I'm reading articles about medications and side effects and risks of other illnesses and reduced life expectancy.

We talk about death, or rather how long a person might live, more often most people our age, perhaps because Pure Luck has so many short-lived people on both sides of his family. I remember feeling his anticipation as a shock the first few times, and it still has that charge at times, but most of the time, I treat it like the first love of a 12-year-old, waiting for the urge to speak of it to pass.

Or, I join in matter-of-factly. There are places on the Internet you can figure out your life
expectancy. We did it one day a few years ago, but I don't really want
to play that game anymore. He enjoys contemplating the average age at death of his parents and grandparents, all impressively young. And so we had a conversation Monday about what having Rheumatoid Arthritis might mean for me, and he did not give way for a minute!

We are like rivals arguing over who has the most beautiful lover.

When BFF hit the spigot, water came pouring out onto the driveway, which was no great problem, but when we got to the basement to look for a shut off valve, we found water spraying all over the place. Pure Luck found the valve, and we stopped the water, quickly, and there is a drain in the floor, and if a few boxes got a little wet, they probably needed sorting out anyway.

But most of the time, when we court our mortality, we are shaky, and things fly loose or run away with us, and we can be grateful when the damage is nothing more than a broken spigot no one had used in at least ten years. We can be thankful when those around us remain calm, or smile and take it lightly, waiting for us to come back from that darkened dance floor where we waltz with our imagined future.

7 thoughts on “Intense Courtship with Mortality”

  1. Your words resonated in my being . You don’t want to think aboutlife expaectancy but it is always on your shoulder. When maintenance gets harder, it whispers in your ear. I’d as soon not do this.

  2. Yes, I think about this too. My mother died 21 years ago next month, 2 years older than I am now. I don’t have what she had so my hope is that I can match my grandparents instead and live another 20-25 years or so. Still, it’s hard to escape thinking about one’s family history, medical or otherwise; it can seem so inevitable.

  3. When the last parent goes, it is hard not to feel that a barrier between you and The End has fallen.
    Not that it was ever really there.

  4. I’m more than three years cancer free, thank goodness, but one of the (many) lingering side effects of cancer treatment is an inability to cast myself very far into the future.

Leave a Reply