Last night, my husband and I watched the movie 50/50. It’s about a 27 year old who is diagnosed with cancer and is given a 50% chance of survival. The movie was very, very good. When it was over, my husband mentioned that this movie touched on some of the things he’s been thinking about a lot more lately: his mortality. He said he’d never really worried before about what would happen if he died, because he knew I’d be fine. (I wouldn’t, at all, but that’s another subject.) But now that there’s a baby…well, that changes things. Now, it’s something he actually thinks about. He was talking about how scary it was driving home yesterday in a sudden torrential downpour, because introducing a baby into the equation makes the thought of your own death that much more terrifying. What will happen if you’re not there? Not only to the child, but to your spouse?
I grew up in a small community where I knew a lot of very young people who died untimely deaths. The 13-year-old girl who lived across the street from me who was hit by a car on the night of her 8th grade graduation. The 11-year-old who died after a four-wheeler accident. The 14- and 15-year-old girls who were hit by a drunk driver. The 17- and 18-year-old boys who were hit by a train on their way to school. That’s not even touching on the adults I’ve known who died young. I’ve had multiple friends whose parents have committed suicide. There have been car accidents. There has been cancer. There have been sudden, unexpected heart attacks or aneurysms in people who seemed to be totally healthy.
I don’t take life for granted. I never had that immortality complex that a lot of young people have, because I’ve been made painfully aware of the fact too many times that life can be taken from you at any moment. Even if you’re healthy. Even if you’re careful. Even if you do everything right. I’m the sort that every time I get in the car to go somewhere, I have that flash where I think about whether this will be the last time I do this. It’s probably a little morbid, but it makes me value and cherish my life, my husband, my family, my friends all the more for knowing that our lives are fragile and fleeting.
With a baby… I don’t know that I worry more about what will happen to her if something happens to me. I know that Kellen will be an amazing father and would take great care of her. I also know that he’d probably find some amazing woman with a couple of years who would love my daughter almost as much as I do and be wonderful to her, because that’s the kind of man Kellen is and that’s the kind of woman he’d attract. I know that if something happens to both of us, she’ll be in good hands with our families. It would be sad, very sad, for me to miss out on so much of her life, and I know that she’d miss out on a lot not knowing me and would probably have tough times related to that. But I know that she’d be safe, loved, and happy.
I do worry a lot, though, about what if something happens to her. Or what if something happened to Kellen and her. When we were back home for Christmas, a woman and her three children were killed in a car accident right in the middle of the holidays. Her husband survived. I think about that man pretty regularly, how horrible that loss must be for him, to have your entire family taken from you in a second. What would I do if something happened to my baby girl? What would I do if something happened to my entire perfect, beautiful little family that I already love so much?
These are the things that I think about. I’m not so much worried about me. I worry more about what will happen to everyone else. While I was watching the movie, I wasn’t imagining myself in the shoes of Adam, the main character. I was thinking about how things must be for his friend, this therapist, or worse, his mother. To have to watch someone that you love fight to live…and possibly lose that battle. That would be the worst. My own mortality doesn’t scare me very much, but the thought of losing the people who are so important to me, that’s terrifying.