This week I heard the really sad news about the death of a woman that I may have met once or twice or maybe more or maybe not at all. I know her name, and I'm straining to remember her face other than how I've seen in pictures. She was young. Over 40 but at my advanced age of almost 47, that's young. She died in her sleep. She went to bed and didn't wake up. For my type of anxious mind, you know the kind that ruminates and obsesses and replays and goes to the worst possible place, this incident that happened to someone I don't think I know has been devastating.
I'm feeling all the feelings. Too many of them. The kind I avoid at all cost.
I'm so sad for all of my friends who know her well. I'm so sad for her husband and her children and her parents. I'm sad for the world without a woman who for all intents and purposes was absolutely wonderful.
But then, after I feel sad for the people who are affected by this death, my mind travels to the places where it should not go. I start thinking too much. And misusing my imagination.
I wonder if she said goodnight to her husband before he fell asleep, as she stayed up to read just a little bit longer.
I wonder if she checked on her kids one last time as they snuggled in their beds.
I wonder if she said the things she needed to say and did the things she needed to do or if she was waiting for tomorrow.
I wonder if she was waiting for a special occasion to get a manicure or to buy those shoes or get a new lipgloss. Or if she was tired and didn't watch TV with her kids that night or if she was being "good" and didn't have dessert one last time. Did she PVR her favorite show to watch it on the weekend? Did she call her mom or her bestie or deny herself a glass of wine or work late when she could have been dancing with her friends?
I think about all the lost moments when I've given my husband the silent treatment or held a grudge or told my kids later! Or when I want to say I love you to someone but I don't, or when I wanted to say "Don't be rude," or "You're treating me badly," or "You hurt my feelings," or "Thank you so much," or "You're an amazing friend," or "I'm glad you're in my life," but I didn't.
Or I put off the gym until the next day or the thing that I'm avoiding indefinitely, not knowing whether I'll ever get to do it.
I know that some things just hid me hard. My daughter says I have too many feelings. Even when -- especially when -- the cause of the feelings really has nothing to do with me.
I can't help it, though. I know that this situation has no impact on my life, but still I ache for this loss, for everyone who is hurting, all of which somehow means that I'm hurting too. It all goes beyond empathy. Logically, I know these emotions are transferred and are not legitimately mine. But then again, aren't all feelings legit? Does that make sense?
The night of the day that I heard this news, as my husband snored away next to me, and before I fell asleep myself, I shoved him and whispered, Don't die in your sleep. You didn't say goodnight.
The next morning he left before I woke up. I called him immediately. I said, What if I'd died in my sleep? How would you even know? You didn't even say goodbye.
I did he said. I didn't hear him.
What if it was the last time?
I'm thinking about the fact that every time might be the last time. I'm thinking that I'm having these wicked thoughts because this tragic passing could be anyone I know, including me. You just don't know.
It's a cliche but it's true. Each time could be your last time.
Nothing good comes of death but reminders.
To listen. To be present. To pay attention to the world around me. To hang out with my kids. To say goodnight. To say goodbye. To buy the shoes. To get my nails done. To stay up late finishing my book. To say I love you. To say whatever is on my mind, even if it's to tell someone they're an a**hole.
To drink the wine and eat the damn cake.
If you haven't noticed, there are benefits to being slightly crazy. When I think too much sometimes I arrive at just the right place.
Are you there with me?
Originally published on Be Nice Or Leave Thanks.