I have this persistent fear of discovering I have an incurable disease and I will die within a year. So I have mentally prepared for this over the years by making checklists of what I will do once that inevitable news comes (yes, I’m a bit dramatic).

Before, it was adventures I would have, places I would go. I would definitely have to get and use a passport, skydive, give my self all sorts of memories that wouldn’t do anything for anyone once I was dead. My life was about me, so my looming death would be about me too, of course.

But as I outgrew my twenties and welcomed my thirties, my perspective shifted. This shift from Super Selfish to Slightly Less Selfish coincided with the birth of Brandon. His arrival made me a bit softer, less self-absorbed.

Some people are much more mature than I am and find themselves caring about others and how their life affects those other people much earlier than thirty. Some people are bigger assholes than I am and find that out even later. Some people are just straight up dicks and end up dying just as selfish as ever.

Anyway, when this fear reappeared to me this week, I marveled at how my checklist had changed. I would first and foremost find a live-in nanny that would treat my children as well as if they were her own children. She would share my views on parenting (at least the important ones) and probably most of my philosophies on life, as long as I could find someone like that. She would make meals for Stephen and support his choice to continue his schooling if he so decided. And although she wouldn’t openly oppose complacency, she would certainly never condone it. She wouldn’t have to become Steve’s second wife, but I would pick someone that I would approve of just in case the family dynamic began to feel natural.

I would also write a lot. I would write journals to each of my children, describing them as I knew them and what I hope for them as they grow. I would tell them how special and funny and smart they are and would overload their egos because that’s the kind of mom I am. But then I would give practical advice that they would probably never heed, then one day, after they had made the same mistakes I had, they would look back and marvel at my wisdom.

I would also write to everyone that was ever a pivotal part of my life: whether for decades or for a year or for a split but defining moment. I would thank them for being a positive impact on my life and fill long letters with lots of sappy shit that people never say in person but would write down if they were dying.

And then, after I took care of everyone else as best as I knew how, I would try to find some peace for myself. I would go for long walks and take baths and read books and write for myself. I would chill the fuck out and maybe even start listening to Bob Marley and become super zen. Who knows – hard to tell. Hopefully I wouldn’t be one of those people who was just angry she was dying, but rather one of the ones who accepted it and did the best she could with it (as you can see, I’ve thought this over a lot in the name of preparedness). Hopefully I would look back at the years I’ve already had and be thankful for them, rather than cursing the ones I never had.

The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.  
~Mark Twain

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