Monday, September 29, 2014
A Sacred Conversation
When I was very little I prayed to the God I believed granted wishes to give me a ravaging disease instead of to other moms. My reasoning was that I thought I was strong enough to "handle" it. I'd seen enough after-school specials to know kids needed to have their moms around for a long time (whomsoever "they" were and let's pretend whomsoever is still in the English rotation). I was young, ignorant, unattached, and dispensable.
I'm not sure where that particular wish came from or why I had the ego of Kanye West. Maybe because my mom means so much to me. And her mom means so much to me. Maybe because my dearest friend's mom had just died from cancer before she entered high school. Maybe because I felt impervious and virtuous to ask for such a blow.
Who knows why we do anything as kids. But now?
I am taking that request back every day, like a chump. Please God, please let me me live long enough where my children will be ok without my daily presence. Andy too. Nice and old, maybe 80 something. Dear God, I realize we made a deal but now other people are relying on me and I had no idea WHAT ravaging diseases ravaged. Dear God, I have saved a lot of Ziploc bags and cut all those plastic rings so turtles and dolphins won't die whenever we buy bottled water. I'm sorry we buy bottled water. (When it comes to living, I am not above pointing out how green I am and how much I honor sea life.)
I have no idea if this is how it works. Because while I've felt a God since I was little, my relationship with religion has been soft and light-hearted. For me, proof is the point of living. All the rest feels more like a test I am studying for when I have the time. Read a little hear, write a little there, all the while hoping to take in what I need to pass the final when the time comes.
When the time comes.
Jimmy told many of us his time would come sooner than later. He knew he wouldn't live to be an old man.
"But HOW do you know?" I prod him, squinting my eyes at his.
"I just do. Look at me. I'm aging in dog years. I look like a basset hound."
"Shut it. You look as handsome as ever. More like a distinguished terrier. Besides, I don't think I'm going to live that long either. I made this deal with God a long time ago. Oh no, it's cool. We can party together in heaven."
Jimmy's countenance changes immediately. He is not amused. His face is locked flat, his eyes are sad, and I get the sense he thinks I'm mocking his premonition.
"No," I clarify, "I just mean I'm not going to be ok without you here."
"You're going to live a very long life, Hon, AND you're going to be ok," his words still make me cry, "I'm old and you're going to get old, ok?"
"Ok, fine. If you say so, Jimmy."
And now, getting older every year feels like an extra bonus from him. A little nod to one of our last conversations together. Gifted time I get to spend growing grayer, softer, and stronger.
And yes, I'd say even a little basset hound.