Growing old and helpless scares the shit out of me. It’s no doubt why I wrote “Rest Home Runaways.” Because after years of trying to figure out why I write, I finally figured out I do it as a way to make sense of the world, to deal with all the things I find terrifying about life on Planet Earth. Anyone who’s read “Spanking New” knows I came onto this watery little planet scared out of my wits.
I used to think it was death I was afraid of, or, more specifically, my death. Until I dug a little deeper, I realized, it wasn’t dying I was afraid of, it was dying for a stupid reason, like not looking both ways, or missing my annual mammogram. The image of people standing at my deathbed thinking I can’t hear them, when I really can, and saying things like “Everybody knows you’re not supposed to make toast in the bathtub” caused me to waste hours of time searching the Internet for all the stupid ways there are to die. As if there is a way to prevent death. As if Death can’t find you if it wants to.
My Death phobia was likely the result of my dad being a doctor. He’d spend his evenings studying in his home office because, as he once told me, “If I’m not up on the latest cure, someone could die,” which somehow Little Me took to mean that some deaths are caused by stupidity.
My mother-in-law died this year. It was a great sadness. But I noticed that we all swooped in to care for her when it became clear she needed it. My parents are both still alive and, thankfully, quite healthy, but I trust, when the time comes, my sibs and I will do the same, swoop in and do what needs to be done.
I don’t have children. I figured out early on that I was way too selfish for that path. If you’re paying attention, you see where I’m going with this. Who’s going to take care of me when I’m clunking around the house half blind and confused? Now that’s something to keep a girl up at night.
Anyone else out there suffer from Stupid Death Phobia? I’d be curious.