Whitney Houston died. She was only 48. I listened to her music, often, when I was so very young, but not. (I was just starting college.) I'm not going to discuss anything about the circumstances of her death though, and I am wish her family comfort and strength during their time of loss.
However, her death has brought up something that has been something that I've been dealing with for years.
Maybe it is because my first funeral was for a little girl who was 8, just like me at the time. Maybe it is because my dad had a very major heart attack when he was 38 and I was just 11. (He is still alive though. Amazing, really.) Maybe it is because the Boy died when I was 18. Maybe it is because I went to a dear friend's daughter's funeral when I was still in my early 20s. His daughter was just a year old and died of SIDS.
I don't know. But I've been thinking about death, specifically my death, for a long time.
Like in an obsessive sort of way. Like when I get in the car, I wonder if this is going to be the time that I don't come back home. Like when I write things on a piece of paper, I wonder if I should throw it away so that nobody sees it after I'm dead. Or if I should clean my house that morning because if I don't, maybe I'll die and the EMTs and all my friends and relatives would come over and see what a slob I was.
I must say, The Boy did both help and hurt this kind of thinking. I think, honestly, it was mostly the beginning of it. The little 8 year old girl. It was sad, and awful, but she had been sick for awhile with cancer and so there seemed to be a reason. The Boy - it was just being at the wrong place at the wrong time. I'm sure that there were things that he had regrets about, but he also had to know that he had done much to help so many other people. He had almost an annoying habit of wanting to help everybody. He always wanted to make others feel good about themselves (well, except for the time that he broke up with me. For a year. I guess he got over it then. LOL) He was also so funny. He could make me laugh, even when I didn't want to. And most importantly, he could make me see that there was more to life than the little tiny detail that I was stressing about that really wouldn't matter in the grand scheme of things. He taught me that true friendship was more important than most things. He taught me a lot. And then he died. He was almost 20. Much too young to die.
And so it began, probably, way back then. At first, I was just thinking about death in terms of "I just want to die so I can be with him." or "I better be perfect so that I can be with him." or "I just want to die because I am so tired of being without him." or I just want to die because I'm so tired of hurting."
I didn't die that first year afterwards though. The 2nd year afterwards, I tried. Not in that way, but I lived a pretty self-destructive life that next year. I'm still amazed that I survived.
And then there were "the lost years" as I call them. I am in contact with ONE, yes, ONE person who I knew over the next 5 years. (Well, that doesn't include my family. Who thankfully put up with me.) I was sad and lost and destructive and lonely. For 5 years. I remember thinking back then that I couldn't believe that this is what life was like. It seemed like living like this for another 50 -60 years would be nothing short of torture. But I didn't die then either.
And I then I moved. And I met people. And I did things. And I was happier. But I still thought about Death. More than the usual person, probably. I told a friend around this time "I think I'll probably die before I'm 34." I hoped that I would at least find someone else to love before I died.
And at 28, I did find someone. And we got married. And 4 months into our marriage, I almost died.
Mr. Simple was driving and I was talking to him. There was a stoplight coming up, and it was yellow already, so he slowed down and was coming to a stop and then all of a sudden, I noticed we were spinning. And then there was glass everywhere. And I couldn't really move. We had been hit from behind when we were almost stopped by a semi-truck that was going 65 miles (which was at least 20 miles more than the speed limit) hour. He tried to go around, and ended up smashing into my side of the car and the seats fell back on the crumpled part of the car, and I came down, on my neck on the headrest of the car, which was now bent at a 90 degree angle. They thought I'd broke my neck. But I didn't. I just stretched all the muscles in my upper back and neck area so much that I needed physical therapy for a year. But I didn't die then.
But my thinking got worse for a few years after that. I kept thinking that I would die - falling off the train platform in Chicago, or in a plane crash. Or something way more random like a bucket falling off the window washer's platform from 40 feet up and landing on my head. I know, it is funny. Sort of.
And then I become a mother. And even funny ways of dying don't seem that funny. No mother wants to miss seeing her children's lives. No mother wants to leave her children, especially when they are young. And I've known women, women who got cancer and died. Or women who were in car accidents. And so when I think of dying, it is almost painful now. Now I don't want to die. Ever.
I know, after all these years of thinking that I will die young, then I'll end up dying at 90. And I know, that at 45, I'm not as young as I used to, although still young enough. And maybe, I should spend more time thinking about the good things that I've learned from all those I know (and even don't know) that die young.
1 - Try. You may be able to reach goals that are higher than you can imagine.
2 - Always tell people that you love them.
3 - Forgive.
4 - Laugh often.
5 - Don't take the small things too seriously.
6 - Don't put things off.
7 - Be honest.
8 - Help others.
9 - Smile and say Thank You. Often.
10 - Have Fun, Do Good.