Death keeps creeping into my mind and into the corners of my life. Friday night before bedtime, I got the news of another death. My friend Lisa in Mississippi lost her son on Thursday when a tornado struck his workplace. He was 28 years old and the eldest of her 2 boys. This is such a freak accident. It was the only reported death in the whole state from the storms that day. I googled to find out more info. His funeral was this afternoon. I’m trying not to be obsessed with death but death seems to be brushing up against me. Edging ever closer, the older I get. I didn’t sleep well Friday night because I just couldn’t get Lisa and her family out of my mind.
Yesterday (Sat.) I made a sympathy card on the computer first thing and was addressing it. Hubby walks up to me and says, “You’re such a nice person.” He always says it like it surprises him or shocks him. I asked him why and he said “because you’re always thinking of others.” I really wanted to call Lisa but figured she had a whole group of people (she lives in a small town) surrounding her now and she’d appreciate the call more later after some time has passed. I was lamenting to hubby about “why do all these deaths affect me so much?”. His answer? “Because you’re such a sensitive person.” I’ve always been this way. I agonize over things that happen to me AND everybody else. I always put myself in everyone else’s shoes and try to imagine what they’re going through. In a lot of cases, I can’t know but I can TRY. I’ve made a career out of empathy. A lot of times I wish I wasn’t so sensitive. It makes life a lot tougher.
As I’ve said before, I avoid talking about death, if I can. I don’t think about what kind of shape I’ll be in when my mom dies. Or what would become of me if hubby died. Or if he died while we were on vacation, how I’d manage. While we were out walking the dogs yesterday morning, hubby brought it up, saying we should talk about it. He said if anything happened to me, he’d make sure to take care of my mom. I knew that but it was still reassuring to hear. Then I mentioned how if I died, his family would be by the day they heard to help him get rid of my stuff. He said it would make him mad if that happened. Then I went on a tirade about if I died, I’d hope that he wouldn’t get a lot of emails and cards from people telling him what a good person I was and how much people loved me. That would make me so angry but I’d be dead so I guess it wouldn’t matter. Then I said, “I think anyone would appreciate being told that while they’re alive. It does no good to say it after the person has passed away.” No sooner were the words out of my mouth and then I had a heart attack. No joke. As suddenly as anything could happen, it happened. I didn’t feel well. I had a severe pain in the center of my chest. I just felt like I had to sit down. It was 37 degrees out and snowing and I wasn’t about to sit on the sidewalk. So we kept walking. I didn’t say anything. That’s how my hubby knew something was wrong. I just shut up. I am a chatterbox so it brings a red flag when I’m quiet. I tried walking slow, stopping and leaning against a tree, etc. Nothing helped. I kept walking because I didn’t want to believe it wouldn’t pass, whatever it was. I like to believe I’m strong and can power through anything. I didn’t think it was a heart attack. I thought you had pain on your left side where your heart is or up and down your left arm. I wasn’t exactly short of breath. I’ve only had heartburn once in my life and this felt like that only much worse. I’ve had one panic attack in my life which kind of felt like that. So I told hubby I didn’t feel good and what the pain was like. He walked next to me and I could just tell he was ready to call 911 if I passed out. He knew better than to hover over me. So we walked super slow and stopped at times. I felt like I was getting worse so finally told him I wanted to cut the walk short and go home. I could barely make it home. As cold as it was, I started to sweat and even got lightheaded. I took a couple baby aspirin and went to sit down. It finally passed after a few minutes but I felt weak. I tried to talk myself into that it was a panic attack since I’d been upset after talking about death. I googled symptoms and when I saw that the pain could be in the center of your chest, I steeled myself. I don’t need any lectures on going to the ER. I probably should have gone and I will if I have anything similar happen again. I’m not saying this to get attention. I don’t like talking about myself but I don’t mind writing about myself. It makes me wonder how many other women are in denial or unsure of what they’re feeling. Logic says I should go get checked out but I’m ok now. I don’t know for sure I had a heart attack. I don’t know if I want to know if I did.
It’s been over 3 years since I’ve gone to the doctor. I see the dentist every 6 months. After my last health ordeal years ago, I thought I’d be better about going to the doctor. The fatter I get, the less I want to go. April 8th I finally called to make a doctor’s appt. for a pap smear and to find out what the weird pain in my legs is. The soonest I could get in was May 15th. For someone who wants to get death off their mind, this isn’t helping. I had forgotten that Rosie O’Donnell had a heart attack after turning 50. A woman I know on Twitter (a nurse) had a heart attack a few years ago, at age 50. I never really thought of 50 as the age your body decides to break down. I have a double dose of heart disease running through my family tree from both parents. My mom has congestive heart failure and my dad had a couple heart attacks and was one of the first in the country to get new heart valves and have a heart bypass. He had been operated on at the Mayo Clinic in the 1970’s. But he had smoked. I don’t smoke. I know from now on, I’ll have to watch myself. Instead of leaving everything to chance.
I don’t know what purpose it serves for me to write this except maybe to document that it happened. My mom always said “I’m going to live until I die anyway.” Which never made sense to me until now.
Death doesn’t take a vacation. Or a holiday. Or a long weekend. Every day, with so many people dying, we have to count ourselves lucky if we’re not one of them. We also have to count ourselves blessed each day that passes where our loved ones are not taken by death through all the possible ways that lives can end. We shouldn’t dwell on death, nor should we ignore it. We need to give it respect and a wide berth.