Some people think that I am morbid or that I have some sort of fascination with death. I would say that they are incorrect about that. What I do have is a list of people that I knew that died early. Some died from illness, some by accident and a couple were murdered.
They weren’t all close friends or people that I knew well. The depth of our relationships varied from person to person. But I learned a lot of lessons about life and myself from them. I learned that sometimes when we think that we have life by the balls it is really a tenuous grip that doesn’t always hold as firm as we might like.
As a parent I think about the welfare of my children on a regular basis. That means that I have to think about what happens if I die unexpectedly. They are still so little, so very young and I have to figure out what I can do protect and care from them.
I suppose that is part of why I like George Strait’s song Love Without End, Amen.
“Last night I dreamed I died and stood outside those pearly gates.
When suddenly I realized there must be some mistake.
If they know half the things I’ve done, they’ll never let me in.
And then somewhere from the other side I heard these words again.
And They said, “Let me tell you a secret about a father’s love,
A secret that my daddy said was just between us.
You see Daddies don’t just love their children every now and then.
It’s a love without end, amen, it’s a love without end, amen.”
I like it because it makes sense to me. Because if I was on the other side of those pearly gates I’d find a way to force them open and bring the kids home. Because it is my job and my responsibility to take care of them. Because it is how I was raised and how my father treated us. My sisters and I knew that if anyone tried to harm us our father would be there. Side note, that includes mom, but this focused on fathers.
So sometimes I think about my life and what lessons I want my children to take from it. I think about the things I have done, the friends I have made, the loves I have had and the heartbreak. I think about the victories and the failures and wonder how to distill those experiences into lessons that they can use to make their lives easier.
It changes all the time. As they grow their needs change and their ability to understand some of the more sophisticated situations that they may encounter.
For right now some of these things can be boiled down into broader topics that don’t require as many details. I tell them that I want them to live life and suck it dry. Don’t be afraid to spread your wings and step out of your comfort zone. Do things that make you stretch yourself in ways that you might not. Don’t be afraid to test yourself.
When they are older I want them to know what it is like to love someone so fiercely that it hurts. I want them to know that indescribable feeling of having someone special that makes you believe that you can be more than you are.
And I want them to know that if they lose that person the devastation of heartbreak won’t be forever, though it may feel otherwise.
I want them to try to find careers that fulfill them and make them happy. I want them to know that it is ok to go through a few things to find that. It is not an excuse not to work hard, but it doesn’t mean that they should feel trapped.
When they look back at my life I want them to see someone who made a difference. Not because of ego either. There is a reason that I like Ozymandias but because I believe that it is the right thing to do. I want them to know the joy of having friends you would die for and those who would do the same for you.
And if I were to die tomorrow I’d want them to know that 41 is incredibly young. I have so much to do, so many things that I want to try. Raising them may be my primary thing, but I am still me. And as much joy as I derive from them I still have my personal needs.
I cannot imagine an age where that will not be the case. I am confident that at 120 I will have a plan of action and list of things that I want to accomplish. Hopefully that won’t be full of things that I intended to do now. With a little luck and some hard work I’ll stick around long enough to find out how it all shakes out.
I want to live long enough to play with my great great grandchildren. Oy, there is so much to be done and not nearly enough time to do it all.