Saturday, April 30, 2011
Knock 'em Dead!
Some of you who visit here regularly know that my girlfriend, @Christy, had a health scare recently. When it happened, her biggest concern was not being able to come see me for a visit we'd planned for months. We live in different states and haven't seen each other since New Year's, so it was a huge disappointment for both of us. But not being able to get on a plane stuck with Christy the whole time she was in the hospital. Her mother and I, on the other hand, quickly relegated the missed trip to well-there's-always-next-time status, and thanked our lucky stars that Christy was still alive. In her condition, a flight would likely have killed her.
Killed. As in died. Dead.
Other than two grandparents and an uncle, I've been fortunate to have never had to face the death of a loved one. I don't know if this is true for everyone, but the death a family member seems almost…normal, expected. It's no less tragic, but somehow it seems to be a natural Circle of Life thing. The death of a partner is different. Our partners are our peers, our contemporaries. They're not supposed to die. At least not for a long, long time.
The notion of Christy nearly dying hasn't really sunk in yet. I'll be going about my day, working, cooking, cleaning – and it suddenly hits me that she was in the hospital because a bunch of doctors, nurses and various technicians were saving her life. The reality of that sort of floats at the outer edge of my periphery. I understand it on an intellectual level. "Yes, this is what happened. This is what could've happened. This is what's going to happen next." But when I think it's about to really sink in...it's gone. I'm left kind of dazed and not sure what to think or how to feel.
In the last few days, Christy and I have been Skyping (thankfully from her condo and not from her hospital bed any more), and we both realized how often we tossed around...death. In our every day speech, we use words like death, die, dead and kill so casually. And now it feels intensely weird and wholly inappropriate.
"Dude, if you say that one more time, I'm gonna kill you."
"Geez, last night I slept like the dead."
"Man, I coulda just died when she said that."
"This morning I felt like death warmed over."
"Omigod, I was scared to death!"
"No, no, I'm dead serious."
It's freaky. When one of us catches the other saying something like that, we remind the other, pause, and then burst out laughing. I'm wondering if it's some sort of evolutionary psychological thing, that we toss around death so casually because to think about it seriously all the time would be, well, a bummer. If we didn't laugh about our mortality, we'd just wander through life in a funk, waiting for the Grim Reaper to tap us on the shoulder and tell us it's time. ("Time to go, Sport!")
I imagine if we really over-analyzed it, we'd probably realize we can substitute a word that's the complete opposite of death and dying more often than not. So, for the time being, instead of exclaiming "She's gonna die when she gets this", Christy and I are saying things like "She's gonna love this". I'm sure it'll wear off eventually, and we'll start tossing death about as casually as ever. But for now, talking life seems...better.
If you'd gotten on that plane a couple of weeks ago Christy, I'd have just died.
at 8:48 PM