I was catching up on my Modern Family viewing last night. In this episode there was a scene where Phil was sitting on the couch and said something that until that moment I’d thought had only been uttered by me.
“When someone your age dies, what’s the first thing you want to know? Died of what? You just want to hear if it’s something that can’t happen to you. Well, it’s the same thing with divorce. Tell me it was booze, cheating, physical abuse, no problem. I’m a monogamous social drinker, and Claire only sleep-hits me. Just don’t tell me it came from out of the blue.”
Holy fucking shit, stop the presses, WTF, there is someone else out there that feels this way? I’m referring specifically to the part about when someone your age dies. Granted Phil is a fictional character on tv, but someone thought about it and wrote those lines.
About 3 years ago, I heard about this woman who lives in my community whose husband unexpectedly passed away. He maybe was a few years older then me, but from all accounts was a vibrant, healthy active guy.
I spent a ridiculous amount of time researching hoping to find out how he died, because as Phil said, I wanted to know it was something that could not happen to me.
His death really hit home for me. He had a family, wife, a kid. It was just a little real for me. MY OCD wanted answers.
I was so desperate I came ever so close to personally asking the now widow how it happened. A total asshole move that would have been I know, but don’t worry, I didn’t do it.
It just kept gnawing at me. Had I found out he’d overdosed, committed suicide, even a heart attack I would have felt so much better. I’m not particularly worried about those things happening to me.
The thing I realize now is, no matter what the cause of death was, it could happen to me.
Let’s say he got kicked by a mule, eyes went crossed, fell down a well and died. That could happen to me, not likely as I spend very little time around mules or any 4 legged animals for that matter, but still possible.
None of us are getting out of this thing called life alive.
I had a doctor’s appointment this morning and as I was walking out I saw an ambulance with its lights on in the parking light. Immediately I wanted to know why, for whom, what happened, could it be me next time. So I sat and waited to find what happened. Hoping it was a little old lady who fell, not that I like it when little old ladies fall, but little old ladies and I have very little in common.
Though, we are both found of naps.
These stories are littered throughout my life.
I don’t want to accept death. My OCD is doing its damnedest to keep me busy looking for a certainty that I’m not going to die. Needless to say my worries have never been grounded in logic or reason.
My looking for a certainty I won’t die is the ultimate exercise in futility.
The sooner I can accept this universal fact the more time I will have to actually enjoy life. Part of what makes life so special so wonderful is it has an expiration date. It won’t last forever.
I’ve spent a lot of time in my therapist’s office talking about this particular fear or obsession. The thing I would always say is, “I don’t want to die but I also don’t want to live forever.” What we uncovered is that the real fear is an uncertain death, not knowing when or where it will strike.
Uncertainty is at the heart of all my fears and its greatest manifestation is the uncertainty surrounding death.
I know at the end of a blog post you are suppose to have everything wrapped and the problem solved that you started with in the beginning. This will not be that kind of post.
What I do know is next time I hear the sirens of an ambulance or learn about a very handsome, young 37 year old, looks a little bit like Ben Affleck dude who died suddenly, I won’t seek to find out why.
I’ll just assume whatever Ben died of I could die of, so I won’t waste my time obsessing. Instead I will choose (remembering choosing from my ice cream post) to spend my time enjoying the life I get to live instead of worrying about how or when it might end.
If I can succeed at doing this the closer I will get to not having to shell out $160 a week to see my therapist. If my therapist is reading this, I love you, I’m forever grateful to you but think about the massages and spa treatments I could buying with that money.