The house is really quiet with everyone either at school or running some errands before the rest of the day takes over. I’d talk with Kathy’s cat but we only seem to get along when I am trying to sleep. He likes to curl up on my feet, I tolerate it since I’m not the biggest cat person. So I thought instead of running outside and cornering one of the neighbors, I’d answer a question that has been asked of me over the past couple of weeks.
“How do you want to live?”
It’s a simple play on asking someone with a terminal illness under what circumstances do they think they are going to die. Are you going to be surrounded by machines in the hospital? Do you think you might just be sitting at the kitchen table and you might just lean over to the left forever? Or my personal favorite of the moment, find yourself someone in a similar set of circumstances and go out Thelma and Louise style. The problem with that being there aren’t too many high cliffs to drive a convertible off of in the Greater Boston Area. (although I do know a lovely overlook in Newport, Rhode Island that has a beautiful sunset.)
At some point in life we all have to answer that question. Or at least plan for it in case there comes a time when we can’t make decisions for ourselves. I wouldn’t want my parents trying to figure out which is best. They’ve had a hard enough time accepting my being several states away and trying to be a “Big Boy” in my handling of things. Probably why the medical establishment is always curious about a Living Will whenever they do something. Not like I’m leaving you people anything, damn medications cost a house’s purchase at this point!
When the lawyer asked that all-so-uncomfortable question, he did it with a sense of humor and a bit of concern. I tend to pick people I have known for a long time to help handle things. People I trust to not just do the best that they can, but also someone I might ask to feed the dog in case of my running late from work! So my lawyer I have known since college. The same with a doctor I trust for advice. People who will keep private my health changes!
We came up with contingencies and options, variations on a theme no one is truly comfortable with. There are only two things that are of importance to me. Simple things that can easily be accomplished without any hassle.
I wish to be cremated and someone can drag my shoebox filled with ashes to this baseball field I used to play on. Some of my best memories are sitting there with a bunch of kids just mouthing off about life and our overstated abilities. Some days we won, other days we left having learned that we were indeed imperfect, even bad. I don’t want the crowd I dreamed of playing before, just walk out to home plate and let me fly. (every catchers dream!)
And the other is even simpler. We come into the world as a single package. We’re made up of all those who came before from a scientific point of view, but we are a complete unknown. By the time we leave, we have become something much bigger than ourselves. Before someone puts me in the oven and turns the temperature up to Extra-Extra Crispy just put a picture of my daughter in my pocket.
As for how I’m going to want to leave this planet? Big fan of just closing my eyes while listening to a baseball game and thinking about nothing and everything all at once. No machines, no crowd of people trying to elongate my time, possibly not even another person. That last one seems selfish, but I just don’t know how others might handle that. I know I’ve never done so well with the experience.
Since life doesn’t go as planned and Steinbeck was right when he wrote about the best laid plans often go awry, something will change. Life always finds a way (okay, that’s Crichton in Jurassic Park). The first step of every journey is marked by an acknowledgment that you are going on one. Hopefully at times this new reality, one where I measure time differently, will allow me to be in the driver’s seat at times and a passenger for other’s when they need to pick a direction.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “FAQ.”