Thoughts of mortality - that of my own and of those around me - have never been too far from my mind. The last few days, however, these thoughts have been forefront in my mind as I drift to sleep. I find myself kept awake, particularly, by the thought of Honey passing and leaving me behind or me dying, leaving him.
Saturday morning, we were awoken by the sound of heavy engines idling outside our house. ... and of Babydog barking at the uninvited noise. A fire engine and an ambulance had arrived to tend to our next door neighbor. Our next door neighbors are an elderly couple; the wife has left the house only a handful of times in the 16 months since we moved in. She has been recovering from a series of falls in the last year and a half. Having been the couple to assist the cops when our next door neighbor on the other side (an elderly single woman) died at home not six months ago, Honey and I immediately thought the worst. We watched as surreptitiously as possible. Luckily, when our elderly neighbor was wheeled out of the house on a gurney, she was sitting up and alert.
Saturday evening, we brought her husband a plate of cookies from a local bakery that we like. He seemed pleased. Apparently, she had (unsurprisingly) taken another fall and an x-ray could not see enough around a pin in her leg to determine whether she had fractured or sprained it. He was hoping she'd be available to return Sunday or Monday. Yesterday evening, when I came home from work, he was returning from a day visiting her in the hospital. No dice. The doctors want to keep her until she's well enough to walk on her own. Currently, it's agony for her to stand. Explaining me this, my neighbor's eyes looked tired and puffy - like he'd been crying and not sleeping well.
We're not that close to our neighbors. Friendly. They have our house keys in the case of emergency. But we don't really hang out. Nonetheless, I have to think what's going on next door is affecting my thoughts on a subconscious level.
Honey is my best friend and my hero. I don't know what I would if he predeceased me - at least not now. Sometimes - maybe most times - I take him for granted. And I'm sure it's the same with him for me. You can't live every single day loving someone with the ultimate enthusiasm as you would if it were that person's last day on Earth. It's simply emotionally unsustainable. Why is it though that these thoughts of pre-bereavement come just as I settle in to sleep? Could I not have these thoughts around 3PM, so that they make me more eager to get home and spend quality time with him?
And then I wonder what would happen if I predeceased him. I worry that he would not deal with my death well at all, becoming some stereotypical curmudgeon; and I also worry that he would recover within a year, finding some younger, slimmer, more successful, more beautiful version of me and would be so happy with this hypothetical woman (I HATE her so much) that he would never spare a thought for me again. Both scenarios are ultimately unlikely - particularly the latter because I'm such an awesome specimen that I pity any woman who follows me; it'd be like DuMaurier's Rebecca, or something - but both make me sad. Statistically speaking, he'll probably predecease me; but as I have a bevy of cardio-pulmonary maladies in my family, I may go first. I just want each of us to be happy and cherish each other, both in life and death. And I hope that we are reunited on the other side when it's all over.
In the end, I hope that Honey and I live to ripe old ages. But I also hope that our declines are relatively brief and not too hard on the other. There's a song by Ben Folds called The Luckiest.
My favorite part of the lyrics are as follows:
Next door there's an old man who lived to his nineties
And one day passed away in his sleep
And his wife; she stayed for a couple of days
And passed away
I'm sorry, I know that's a strange way to tell you that I know we belong
That I know
That I am
The old man who lives next door to us is not in his 90s yet. And frankly, if he died before she did, she would be in much more trouble than he would if she went first. But it's clear he loves her very much. And while I hope Honey and I don't pass within days of each other - I want us each to live as long and full as possible - I can't deny the romance of that scenario. For now, perhaps I should just dwell on the lyrics from the first half of the song, since that's the romantic part of our relationship we can always live in:
I don't get many things right the first time
In fact, I am told that a lot
Now I know all the wrong turns, the stumbles and falls
Brought me here
And where was I before the day
That I first saw your lovely face?
Now I see it everyday
And I know
That I am