Contemplating Mortality

I’ve never been afraid of death. It’s been on my mind since I was quite young. Not that I particularly WANT to die – not until I’m good and old, anyway. But it’s not scary.

The scary thing is realizing that I’ve wasted a lot of my time. The scary thing is realizing that I could have done a lot more by now – if I had made better choices.

This has all been driven home for me recently. In the Summer of 2017 I was bitten by a tick and contracted a form  of Lyme Disease that aggressively attacked my nervous system (neuroborreliosis). I’ve taken several courses of antibiotics since then, but it seems like nothing has killed it entirely yet.

When I first developed symptoms, they were sudden and horrific. Each time they’ve returned (they start creeping in several months after treatment), it’s been milder and more manageable – though it can still be somewhat debilitating for several weeks at a stretch, it’s not as bad as it was.

The next step is likely IV antibiotics – but I’m not quite willing to “go there” just yet. My understanding is that this bacteria is fairly persistent, and may need to be strategically defeated rather than just bombed with antibiotics which will also compromise the balance of other bodily systems. The good news is that it almost never kills people!

… Except by suicide. But I don’t think that will ever be my cup of tea.

Now there’s this whole COVID-19 Pandemic going on. I don’t even know what to think about that. On the one hand, we’re due for a good pandemic. On the other hand – it’s an election year. *shrug* Just saying.

I have no idea if I’d be considered “high risk” for this disease or not. I’ve read and heard and been told by doctors an awful lot that Lyme Disease suppresses the immune system – and I’ve definitely noticed a few little indications of that – things like my hair and nails growing more slowly, cuts and scratches taking longer to heal, easier bruising, stuff like that. But who knows! I’ve been around an awful lot of sick people and not gotten sick in spite of that. I like to think I’d pull through this virus like a champ, were to catch it.

But having been ill for so long already has left me feeling a bit… delicate, shall we say.

I’m a “better safe than sorry” kinda gal anyway – and to be frank with you: I like a good conspiracy theory. So the way it shakes out for me is that I’m buckling up for this to be something pretty big.

My family operates on some pretty tight margins (lol peasants). We can’t jet off to a tropical island or retreat to our home in the rural countryside. So for me, preparedness is all about buying time. Just enough time – to survive and to adapt to whatever it is that life is about to throw our way.

And it really struck me over the last few days, that that’s all I’m really doing, when you boil it down. That’s what life is: buying TIME.

Time for WHAT, though?

That’s the thought that kept running through my mind as I was stocking up over the last couple of weeks.

I’m no stranger to buying in bulk. Fun story about me: when I was 13 years old or so, my mother sent me to the store for “some ketchup.” She gave me five dollars. I walked the half mile or so home from the store toting a paper bag with no fewer than SEVEN bottles of ketchup in it. Because that was a darned good price, and I knew it would get used before it went bad. And I had a $5 ketchup budget. The folks at the local foodservice and wholesale places know me pretty well by now.

Buying enough of everything to last at least a couple weeks is second nature to me. I just bought a little extra this time. I had a lot of opportunity to take in the “vibe” of the stores where I usually shop in the few days leading up to the panic-buying-in-earnest. It was eerie. There weren’t very many people out and about. Some were stocking up on huge quantities of staple items. Some were only picking up one or two things. Everyone seemed to be “testing the atmosphere.” Fear and anxiety seemed to be literally IN the air.

And I just kept wondering: what is this time FOR? What is any of it FOR?

In my last post, I touched a little bit on the sorts of dreams and aspirations I had as a little girl that gave me my sense of purpose: I wanted to be a wife, mother, and homemaker. And eventually a grandmother. And a great-grandmother, and a great-great-grandmother… etc.

I didn’t think much beyond that. When people have asked me “don’t you want to be MORE than just a wife and mother?” I look at them like they are CA-RAY-ZAY insane. Nutso. What sort of other endeavor could I possibly come up with that would be more worthwhile than THAT? Do they really think that motherhood is a part-time undertaking? What in the heck?

I’m reminded of a quote I read somewhere, which is apparently from an out-of-print book I’ve always wanted to get my hands on and never have: “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” (Home: the Savior of Civilization, James Edward McCulloch)

I recall thinking when I was younger that having children young would afford me time in my middle-age-and-older years to “have fun” or “make money.” I would achieve success in the home – and THEN I would achieve success in the world!

But these days I’ve discovered that I don’t like fun OR money. I find them disingenuous.

These days I see that there truly IS no logical end to this undertaking of motherhood.

What I have been searching for is the answer to the wrong question: the question of “what THEN?”

The correct question is “WHAT FOR?”

And as soon as I asked THAT question, I realized I’ve had THAT answer all along. I’ve just been a little bit afraid to come out and say it:

For GOD.

I’ve learned to keep really quiet about my faith over the years.

I even spent a long period of time actively denying my faith – to suppress the cognitive dissonance of living wrongly for the purpose of seeking the approval of MEN. I chose to put a man before God, and I have paid dearly for it.

In all my wounded stumblings back towards God, I have effectively lost people I love dearly; people who could not reconcile my love for them with the fact that I believe differently and choose to live differently than they do. I never preached to them; I never judged them. I gave of myself to these people freely and selflessly – time, money, labor, attention and kind words. I do not hold very MANY people dear, and it pains me to wonder if there might have been something that I could have said to any or all of those people, to somehow make them understand that my beliefs and the things I choose to propagate in the world are not a condemnation.

But I cannot continue to make the same mistake of seeking approval from my fellow humans before seeking approval from God.

It occurs to me that I have even still continued to effectively DENY God for the purpose of not ruffling feathers. I mean, I’ll tell anyone who directly asks that I believe in God – but how many times have slunk away from a conversation, for fear of potentially “triggering” someone by offering ANY kind of non-secular perspective?

And that’s all kinds of silly, isn’t it?

There are so many things in this world that could kill me, nevermind this stupid virus. I could be dead tomorrow for a hundred different reasons. And the same goes for every single tomorrow after that.

So, what’s it all for?

For GOD, dammit.

Goddammit.

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