I’ve always had a fairly strong sense of denial about my mortality. Growing up I was a ridiculously healthy kid and despite myriad self-destructive and addictive tendencies, I made it through the first 39 years of my life relatively unscathed. But then my 40’s tore through me like El Nino, eroding everything in its path. Suddenly I found myself trapped in a body filled with willfully disobedient organs and noticed that my knees, once capable of completing marathons, started clicking like a Ubangi tribesman after only twenty minutes on the treadmill. Almost overnight the food became too spicy, the music too loud, and I found myself craving dinner at 4:00pm and watching Hoda and Kathie Lee.*
*Nah, I’m just messing with you on that last one. . .but not about dinner. . .dagnabbit.
The fact that I’m a mother combined with some pretty big health scares over the last few years have made me feel like I’m on some cosmic “60 Minutes” set, listening to the clock “tick-tick-ticking” away the minutes of my life. I’ve even started reading the obituaries religiously. Not as a somber reminder of my mortality but more of a “Better you than me” kind of schadenfreude. In an attempt to dodge the Big D I’ve tried to be fairly proactive about my health. I don’t smoke and I don’t drink; but when it comes to exercise I am a lazy bastard and on any given day I will be filled with so much candy that Mexican kids will be whacking me with sticks. I would give anything for a magic pill or elixir or surgical technique to extend my life as I am of the belief that any problem can be fixed by throwing a shit-ton of money at it. Sadly, all the money in the world can’t buy you youth and immortality*
*Just ask Kris Jenner.
I know death is an inevitability and part of the grand Lion King circle of life and as such I should embrace it as just another mystical journey but I just can’t jump on that hippy-dippy bandwagon. Even talking about death makes me more jittery than Ty Pennington on Red Bull. Death terrifies me, and it should fucking terrify you, too. Why? Because it. Will. Kill. You.
But in the long run, burying your head in the sand and ignoring your imminent demise makes about as much sense as Ozzy Osbourne on NyQuil. Eventually you have to face reality. Eventually, you have to face the Darkness.
I am under no false illusions that I am a responsible adult, but in the interest of protecting my children, I am forced to impersonate one from time to time. So, I cowboyed up and made an appointment with my Farmer’s agent to discuss ((gulp!)) life insurance.
Now, let me preface by saying that my agent, Kellie Jo, is rad as shit. She is a competitive racquetball player, has a wicked sense of humor, and her office is always stocked with a plethora of fine chocolates. All things being relative, visiting Kellie Jo should be a pleasant experience, but somehow whenever I meet with her I walk in with a smile on my face and a spring in my step and storm out of there more pissed off than Kanye West at a Taylor Swift concert. It isn’t Kellie Jo’s fault. It’s the way the word “death” is casually tossed around like a drunken whore at a biker bar and the how numbers on her little calculator drive home the sobering fact that I am worth more dead than alive.
I’d already met with an attorney after my divorce to rewrite my will and estate planning so Gil didn’t decide to go all O.J. on my ass and take my stuff, but I’d kind of been putting off the whole life insurance thing because I’m a little skeeved out by the fact that not only do I have an expiration date like a carton of Yoplait Lite, I have a price tag too. Life insurance is like an abusive boyfriend gently stroking your hair and telling you everything will be okay while he throws you up against a wall, takes your money, and leaves you with a sense of impending doom. And if you have a medical history like mine, the son of a bitch will take a lot of your money. A lot.*
*I’m not saying that you should lie to your insurance agent about your medical history, but if you’ve had any past issues with eating disorders or substance abuse then, well…OK, fuck it. Lie like a hooker being paid by the moan.
Walking out of Kellie Jo’s office, my wallet was considerably lighter, but my sense of security felt stronger and more solidified. But still there was that overwhelming sense of “holy shit I’m going to die”. No matter what I do, or how I try, or what miracles of modern science or cosmetics arise in the not-so-distant future, someday I will simply cease to exist. And then what? An afterlife? Darkness? Nothingness? And what will I leave behind for the world to remember other than some unpaid parking tickets and a fabulously well-dressed corpse.*
*Because there is NO damned way I’m going to meet Joe Black without a killer pair of shoes.
Over the years my views on death have been altered more times than Oprah Winfrey’s wardrobe, but now I’ve reached an odd and begrudging sort of…acceptance. Death is just the grand finale; the ribbon on the gift of life that ties the whole thing together like Jerry Springer’s “Final Thought”. And life is indeed a precious gift, but like all gifts there comes a time when it gets worn out and you need to drop it off at the celestial Goodwill to make room in the closet of humanity.
But in the meantime I’m going to have so much plastic surgery that you could bounce a quarter off my forehead. I may be maturing, but I’m still me.