Before I Go
Arlo recently asked me with all the gravity of a five-year-old, “Mommy, when will you be TOO old?”
“Too old for what?”
He gave me a crooked smile and asked me what he really wanted to know: “I mean, when will you be dead?”
I rarely think of my age because thinking about stuff makes it real but for the record I am 45. Arlo came to me at 39 and Farrah Star at 42. I know plenty of 45-year-old grandparents but here I am just getting started.
Right before I had kids, deep in the throes of pregnancy surges and losses, I became acquainted with a mother of three who confided that every time she gave birth, she witnessed her own immortality. She had home water births and as you could imagine, she felt completely present during those events. She was more than present I think; I believe she entered another level of consciousness and when she said she watched her own mortality pass into her children I believed that too. I was mesmerized by her story and added “immortality” to the long list of reasons why I would do anything to experience labor and birth.
When my time came however, I didn’t see immortality. I was too busy screaming.
So my dear son, to answer your question, I don’t know when I’ll be dead but if I see it coming I can tell you how I will die: before I close my eyes I will see your face; the lightening-bolt vein at the tip of your eyebrow that strikes at your temple; your everlasting dimple and the light that lives inside you. Your laughter and your “Momma” will be the raft upon which I drift away. Your flesh pressed against my flesh will be the final sensation my body enjoys.
You and your sister did not give me immortality but you gave me peace; peace in knowing that my final moments will end as they began; with you.