Wrapping My Pretty Little Head Around It

“The thing about life is that one day you’ll be dead.” ~David Shields~

I’m not a good patient. Being a good patient requires patience, and I just don’t have much. I’ve tried to cultivate it, but it’s slow growing.

For instance, I had a surgery last year that required much preparation and I did it all myself. Even my true love at the time (not a true love at all as it turns out) did not show up to help.

Instead, he asked that I lift a bed frame up a flight of stairs despite having two massive tears in my rotator cuff. When I let my displeasure be known (in the animated way I’m known for)he swore at me for being angry at his…hmm, what shall we call it, uselessness and kicked me out of his house.

Health crisis, even minor ones like elective surgery often help to sort out more than physical issues. In my case, it was a great opportunity to examine relationships, and establish healthier boundaries.

For three months I had little or no use of my right arm. For three months I had a few close friends who made an effort to be present and help. The regulars, were nowhere to be found, and the man I’d been in relationship with showed his true colours, failing miserably at being the type of man a woman is happy to know.

Most people are not comfortable asking for help, and I’m really not comfortable asking for help. You’re either the kind of person who is around to help a friend; bring soup, offer to fetch the heavy groceries and lift the laundry, or you’re not.

This weekend I was fortunate enough to keep company of some wonderful friends. The kind of friends who are around. From near, far and even further, we all arrived at our destination ready to ring in another beautiful end-of-summer weekend. There was an abundance of wonderful things; good food, good wine, inspiring conversation and much tenderness.

Visiting, and reminiscing with the friend I’ve known the longest over breakfast, we remarked at how much has changed in both of our lives since we first met over 12 years ago. She is married. I’ve parented a child into teenager-hood and will be an empty nester in less than five years. We blink, and time thrusts us forward whether we feel ready or not. We are the same people, but we are different, somehow equally weathered and rejuvenated by our experience.

Between my wonderful time spent with friends, and reading the introduction to Christopher Hitchen’s book Mortality, I’ve had cause to pause and reflect on what it might be about my character that would survive my own mortality. Will it be my wit? My plain spoken nature? My writing? My parenting? My love of champagne, gin and men?

Who will be there, if in two weeks they do indeed slice through a part of my body much more vulnerable than my shoulder? Who will tell me that everything is going to be ok? Who will sit vigil in the days and nights that my wee little brain heals? Who will crack jokes that they were surprised they found any brain at all, and make me laugh? What if it all goes sideways and it’s not my bedside they sit at, but next to a lifeless body to say a few words of farewell?

Statistically what I should hear is that all is well. I’m hoping though, that the consensus is more like,” My darling woman, clearly you’ve been thinking far too much for a woman of such little brain. You’re much too fabulous to worry your pretty little head over anything at all. Please go home, drink plenty of gin and tonic on the rocks. Not just any gin mind you miss, the good stuff. Find yourself a rich, dirty, old man, and be the lady of leisure you were intended to be. Mwah, darling. It’s been an honour, an absolute honour to meet such an incredible, sexy, intelligent woman as yourself.”

I’m sure everyone at some point has wondered about these things. Who will miss me? What would they say about me when I’m gone? What is my legacy? They’re interesting, but not pleasant ponderings, and I’m sure no one lingers on their mortality for too long. It is after all an uncomfortable precipice. We tend to linger on the fabulousness of life, like good g&t on the rocks, and how many feathers in an outfit are over the top.

For now I won’t think about that silly old mortality business. I’ll think about getting away in a few days to do some more writing. I’ll think about walking beside the river and poking around the lovely shops in the artsy town that has captured my heart. I’ll laugh, and drink wine in the bath as my music fills the spaces not taken up by steam. I’ll think about hearing the news that yes, I’m fine, just fine.

So, if you’ve had cause to wonder about the karmic residue you might leave after you leave this sentient landscape, I leave you with great advice from a fabulous woman, “ You can leave them thinking you’re a miserable bastard, or you can love them like crazy.” Who said those incredibly wise words? Why me – of course!

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