I'm not sick, that I'm aware. There was no pain or sad thoughts. Nothing really preceded the realization. I was just cleaning out my linen closet and the feeling washed over me that one day I will no longer exist.
There's no denying it depressed me for a few moments. (It also made me realize, as I was folding pillowcases and labeling the shelves, that if nothing else my husband and kids will have an easy time making their beds.)
It did make me wonder though, do sons mourn their mothers in the same way that my female friends and I seemed to do? In 50 years from now when I die (as if my horrible genetics would ever allow me to live that long) will my sons look for signs that my soul is around them? Will they see a hummingbird and think "there goes my mom" as I did after my mom died? Probably not, and that's okay.
What I do hope is that when they look at a painting that moves them or the lush, coral sun setting they will think "mom would have liked that." When they laugh out loud or cry until their bodies shake, I hope they know I would have done the same, unabashedly. When they finish a book, I hope they tell their kids "you have to read this" always wanting to share the joy, like I did.
So I am going to die. And that's okay. Because in realizing that I'm going to die, it has made me -- like a violin whose strings are tightened -- feel more acutely the vibrations of this life that I have. My friends and family and even kind strangers have become more precious to me, their smiles and words gifts. I am grateful to Nature, who seems to be offering herself to me, from the dragonfly who does laps over our pool every day to the crazy squirrel who taunts my dogs as if jealous for my affection. (In his defense, I used to feed him peanuts pretty religiously until the two of them showed up.)
In realizing I'm going to die (and that sadly one day my husband and children and their children will some day die) I also understand that I have no control, which has freed me. To always work on being in control, in your own life and those you love, is exhausting. I know this better than anybody, because my out-of-control childhood set the stage of more than four decades of me trying. It is as if I have held my breath for 48 years, and now I can finally release it.
I am going to die and when that happens, I have asked my family to rent a boat with a band and open bar. After shots of tequila and dancing the YMCA and whatever other revelry they choose, I want them to toss my body whole into my beloved Atlantic Ocean. As I head to my next life, the fishes and dolphins swimming beside me, I'm sure I will hear my family and friends raising their glasses in a toast: "There goes a woman who knew how to organize a linen closet! L'chaim!"