“Little boy or little girl?” yelled the toothless man from his garage across the street.
“She’s a little girl,” I hollered back. It’s 9:30am on a Thursday as I walk Smidge, my 5lb chihuahua.
“Well, I got a little boy about the same size. Does she wanna be a momma?”
“I don’t think she can.”
“Well, thought I might give it a try.”
My thoughts, in retrospect:
You drove for 7 hours. Got gas twice. Called 9 friends. 498 miles down, 34 to go.
Yes, that few. Only 38 mins.
But you’re tired. It’s 11pm. Why rush?
Pull over. Crack the windows. Listen to Neil Young. Sleep a full night.
Enjoy a final stretch. Then, tomorrow, finish it.
On Monday I go in for Jaw Surgery. If I die, I want my tombstone to read, “Died doing what he loves.”
I’ve never seen a footnote on a tombstone. Nor ellipses. I’m updating the medium. The joke makes it more palatable.
I joke because I’m afraid. I’m afraid because it’s frightening. I’ve never been closer to death than I will be on Monday.
I’ve always mused on death. I wrote my first auto-obituary at 13. The same way some people use the largesse of space to decrease their anxiety; I use death to accept depression. When I wake up late enough that I feel grumpy, the phrase “death and taxes” echoes in my mind. It reminds me of two crucial elements – timeliness and humor. One makes today matter and the other makes life worth living.
I’m spending tomorrow and Sunday advising a local high school youth group, and Saturday with my dad. If I die, let it be known I went out doing what I loved.
 Self improvement.
For three months, You’ve driven around with a twin-sized mattress, originally acquired as a gift from a friend. You thought you might use it in your #VanLife #Van. After a week’s trial, however, you elect to use your previous queen-sized foam squishies instead. What to do with this large nuisance?
Option 1: Give it away.
- You posted on facebook–one nibble but no bites.
Option 2: Donate it.
- Goodwill doesn’t take mattresses. They’ll accept it for disposal, however… if you pay them $20.
Option 3: Discard it.
- You can’t just put it in a dumpster. Grrrrrr.
Option 4: Ask that homeless man steering his bicycle up the hill, “Hey – would you like a twin-sized mattress?”
- “Yeah!” he’ll say, and a huge weight will lift as you drive up to the gate of the forest where he lives.
- His name is Pete. He has rough hands and a nice smile. You feel giddy that you made him smile.
- You park your van on the street near his place.
- As the rain begins to plink, you feel a kinship with the misfit.
As my sister drives to Reno, I explain to her and my mother that I don’t want to be resuscitated. Nor ventilated. Nor any other life-preserving “–ated” with a low forecasted-quality-of-life.
They reject my request, which Mom communicates by saying, “I didn’t hear you…” as though pretending not to hear it will avoid it happening. I hadn’t expected that response.
Why would I rather have my plug pulled?
- Low quality of life for those in such a state?
- Comfort with the idea of death?
- Existence as a societal detriment?
The first and second seem unlikely: In most cases, humans adjust to our circumstances, and comfort with the idea still doesn’t make it desirable. The third seems reasonable, but assumes a low likelihood on me becoming a high-positive force again.
Perhaps the gruesome images of end-of-life patients that I saw earlier today impacted me. Perhaps in a soberer state, I’d rather live as long as possible in case medical science improves sufficiently to salvage me. If I prioritize my life, this seems the most reasonable conclusion.
In any case, my sister feels uncomfortable talking about these plans, but they’re valuable plans to have.
I was trying to prioritize them. I’ve heard tell of family members being in difficult situations because they didn’t know the patient’s wishes. A large part of this explanation was to spare them that difficulty, but they’d apparently rather have that situation than this conversation. And I don’t actually care enough to press the issue or put a legal solution in place. In case it ever comes up, whatever they choose is fine by me.
We did, however, agree on one thing: after we’re dead, dispose of us in the cheapest way possible. Now, I’d also like to add: dispose of me in a funny way. I’d like to go out doing what I love.
… if only to ask for money.
“Can I borrow your phone? I need to call my mom. I’ll give you a dollar; don’t even need to touch it. “ This comes from Chris, the Chicago Bulls hat with misshapen teeth and meth sores.
I dial the number for him, put the phone on speaker. “It’s 3am in Ohio,” Chris’ mom tells him.
“I’m sorry,” Chris says. “I didn’t realize.”
“Did you get the hundred-dollar MoneyGram I sent you? Can you come home? I’m worried about you. Have you talked to your dad? Did he send you any money?”
“Not in a while.”
“Okay, here’s the code:”
Chris’ Mom gives Chris the number for the MoneyGram. Chris writes it on his palm using the pen I lent him.
“Thanks, Mom. I gotta work in the morning, but I’ll call you at lunch.”
Chris played online poker until the US government shut it down seven years ago. Now, he teaches tennis and plays poker in Vegas, but one-tabling live is not the same context or variance as twelve-tabling on the web.
I suggested he go international—like to Cali Colombia, where he can play online again and live like a king for $1k a month. As a bonus, I told him about two ¿cartel members? who lose $1k per day in the only non-profit casino I’ve ever heard of. (A money-laundering front for the cartel? Probably.)
Chris calls his friend Red. Red’s got something for Chris. Chris writes an address on his palm next to the MoneyGram code and the “HoHoHo” he doodled while chatting with his Mom. I don’t know what Chris is going to pick up, but my money’s on meth. When he asks me for $3, I don’t know why I give it to him. Maybe it’s pity. Maybe it’s hope.
I wish he would go to Cali. The cocaine cartel in one of the most dangerous cities in the world would probably be safer company.