Someone I know stated that she hoped she didn’t die before publishing a book. I replied that I used to feel that way myself. Nowadays, I hope I don’t die before I finish raising my children.
She believed I’d chided her, but I wasn’t implying judgment at all: I really did used to feel that way. I honestly would hope that every single person who reads here has a chance to fulfill his or her dreams before dying, whether it’s traveling around the world, deep-sea diving, publishing a book, or raising her/his children. I’m not in the business of weighing the relative importance of others’ dreams.
Moreover, I believe writing is a vocation for writers, the same way parenting is a vocation for parents. For most of us, death pretty much puts an end to any ability we have of fulfilling our vocations, so it makes sense to fulfill them first, in order from most important to least.
Most pet-owners I know have verbalized at one point or another a fear of what will happen to their pets if they die, and they use that fear to make plans so their pets will be fed, cared-for and re-homed in the event of their demise. Again, since tomorrow is not a promise, this makes sense.
Lately, though, my “I hope I don’t die before” thoughts have become quite specific, and in a way I find ridiculous. It’s, “I hope I don’t die before I finish putting the groceries in the car.” Or this morning, watching the wind whip through the trees in front of my house, a brief and indistinct hope that a snow-overloaded tree wouldn’t fall on me while I had the two year old on my hip.
(I still need to post pictures of my decapitated tree. Someone remind me in the comments.)
And in both cases, it’s very practical: when I bring the groceries to the car, I buckle the child into the car and then unload the groceries. (If you’re wondering why I do it that way, this morning it was negative ten degrees. During the spring, summer and fall, I reverse the order.) If a car were to careen through the parking lot and strike me down, would the first responders think to look inside the car and unbuckle my son? Or would he stay there?
Same thing with the tree in the front yard: if I got crushed, who would take care of the kid until someone realized?
Morbid fleeting thoughts. If they stuck around for longer than five seconds, I’d have to see a professional. But it’s intriguing how parenthood made my worries a whole lot more practical.