My Own Mortality

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

January 31, 2013

At C'est Naturelle

Levi, like most kids, knows exactly what to do on a farm. He runs around and chases chickens!

It went like this.

Me: “I’m sorry you had a bad dream about the Dinotrux last night.”

Levi: “I don’t remember that one. I had a dream that you died.”

Me: “I’m sorry… ”

Levi: “And Daddy got married on a boat.”

Me: “Where was I?”

Levi: “You were dying a few years after I was born. And, I was getting a new mommy.”

Me: “Well, was your new mommy nice?”

Levi: “I don’t know, I hadn’t met her yet.”

Levi was so matter-of-fact about the whole thing. Like it was the most natural thing in the world for me to be dead, for Peter to remarry, and for him to get a new mommy.

I was surprised we were having this conversation. A few months ago the conversations were more in line with Levi pleading for me to not die, and that he was afraid I would. And, now suddenly for him to have this Zen like awareness of the changes of life was … interesting.

Mostly though, it’s made me reflect on my own mortality  I have sort of assumed, bad habits and all, that I’ll make it through to his high school graduation. That is, I plan to live to at least 49. I have some vague idea that I’ll be around to help coach him through the troublesome twenties. I am curious if he will have a partner and offspring of his own. I’m curious what they will be like, and if I’ll like them. I’m curious if we will be a close family into Levi’s adult years. I’m curious if we’ll be in the same city, or will Levi do as Peter and I have done and move across continents so that family excursions become the annual vacation.

Foam Core Art

Levi making his sign

I’ve never considered, seriously, that I won’t be around for those happenings. It’s not like my family is unaware of dying young. So, I don’t realistically count it out. Anything could happen… my poor habits could catch up with me, and I could become diabetic and die of disease related conditions. I could make a wrong turn or not pay attention when I’m driving and get hit in a horrible accident. I could be standing outside and a freak lightening bolt could zap me into nothingness. I don’t know when my number is up, but I’ve assumed it’s far away. I’m hoping my genes are more in line with my mother’s and that I live into my 80s.

I have plans for when I’m in my 70s. I’ll be retired. I’m going to move back to Portland (at some point we’re going to have to move out of Portland). I’ll get a nice condo-apartment downtown, either near where I now work or near the museum. My first volunteer priority will be as a docent at the museum. I’ll sign up to audit classes at PSU. I’ll take the streetcar or walk to the farmer’s market to get my weekly groceries.

But what if that is all just that… a dream. What if Levi’s dream is more a premonition. What if I’m dying more rapidly now than what I assume? What if I don’t make it until he’s in first grade? How does that change my view of things?

Operating under premise that I’ll make it into my 70s, I postpone crafts and reading with Levi. I pawn off walks to the park to Peter. I try to balance both Levi, Peter, and all my work and volunteer obligations. I choose to make bread and answer emails instead of chatting with my family.

But, what if I didn’t have this dream of time? What would I do?

I don’t want to focus on that what if. So, I think I’ll do as I’m doing… try, very hard to be present. I think this works 70% of the time, during the week. Focus on getting us ready in the morning, set Levi off to school, then, go to work. I can mostly focus on work while I’m at work, but household and parental things always crop up. After I work, I try to concentrate on driving, then getting Levi. Once I get Levi, we have two hours to ourselves. That two hours, though, is filled with a quick dinner between 6p and 7p. Then, it’s get ready for bed time. I try to have Levi in bed by 8pm, sometimes it’s just after – like tonight.

Is that quality enough? He can’t be up later than that or he’s miserable at school the next day. I do have obligations, no matter when my number is up, and I can’t work on an unknown.

So, really, what we’re left with is sadness over the concept. It makes me sad to consider that I might not be there to watch him grow. It makes me sad to consider I might not be able to be his advocate  It makes me sad to consider that some new mommy might be tucking him in and reading him books. It makes me sad to think there might be a different family getting his first pet and teaching him how to care for another. It just makes me sad. And, it makes me sadder how nonchalant he was about the whole thing, while at the same time I admired the zen like quality of this view of a new mommy.

1 Comment

  1. Virginia

    What a crazy conversation with someone so young. I could hardly read it. Yes we never know what will happen, but I can see you and Peter sitting in church watching Levi getting married

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