FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

It Wouldn’t Kill Me to Die

by MISSY BEATTIE

A year and three months after the death of my husband Charles, I took a trip with Laura, my sister. Seated aboard a propeller plane and flying over water, we locked eyes.  She said, “I really don’t like this.”

“It wouldn’t kill me to die,” I said.  We began to laugh, triggering uncontrollable hilarity.  Yet, I’d expressed the truth.

A little less than three years after I spoke those words for the first time (Charles died May 25th, 2008), I’ve said them often, like a mantra, to myself and aloud: “It wouldn’t kill me to die.”

I wonder about all those people who feel like me.  I know I’m not alone, just lonely.  I go to the grocery, smile at shoppers, and talk with the cashier.  “I’m fine, thanks. And you?”  I marvel at my ability to wear a cheerful mask when my skin covers an often-churning caldron of discomfort so harsh, I feel sick.  Again, I know.  I understand that there are many like me, everywhere, measuring out their lives in portions of pain and pretense.

It wouldn’t kill me to die.

I’ve made declarations about choosing life.  Choosing to have a big, wonderful life. Taking courses.  Signing up for this and that.  Running.  Biking. Being grateful.  Going to a movie.  Writing.  Participating in the peace and justice movement.  An attempt at romance. Prosecco evening, Thursdays, on the patio at my neighborhood restaurant at Cross Keys, or as I call it: The Realm of Cross Purposes.

I listen as a garbage disposal grinds noise that enters my solitude, reminding me of another time, years ago, when we lived in Nashville.  I’d hear a rasp of moving parts, the opening of the garage door, and know that within a couple of minutes, Charles would climb the stairs to the hallway near the kitchen.

It wouldn’t kill me to die.

I long for the sound of his snoring—the snoring that woke me or that started before I could get to sleep. I’d awaken him (not always gently) and tell him to turn over.  And I think about his response: “Thank you, honey, I love you.”  Yes, he’d thank me and tell me he loved me. Told me once he liked the deliciousness of drifting, drifting back to sleep.

Sometimes, I lie in bed, unable to sleep, hearing nothing but the ceiling fan.  It wouldn’t kill me to die.

My mother (who died in April of 2011) expressed herself beautifully, especially when she’d write a note of condolence to a grieving family. “May your memories bring comfort” usually closed her heartfelt words to those who’d lost someone.  She never wrote the words again after Chase was killed in Iraq, because she learned that memories are painful. We talked about this when Charles died.  And, again, seven months later when my father died.  For me, memories bring:  It wouldn’t kill me to die.

In the months after Charles’ death, I was on a mission to impart the message of life and death’s great gift–that every second should be cherished.  I thought of wasted time, a little argument about something stupid.  A complaint.  Pouting over the meaningless.  Pouting, period. I’d choose any opportunity to tell a friend, acquaintance, even a stranger about the importance of treasuring time together, making every moment count.  Before I realized that there’s an inability to comprehend death’s void, the loved one’s disappearance, until it personally shatters.

It wouldn’t kill me to die.

On Tuesday, I saw a feel-good movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Frequently, Sonny Kapoor, played by the marvelous actor Dev Patel, says: “Everything will be all right in the end.  So, if it’s not all right, it is not, yet, the end.”  Depending on an individual’s emotions, humor, the mind’s context, this quote has different interpretations.

I think it is not, yet, the end.  Because it is not all right.

Missy Beattie lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Email:  missybeat@gmail.com   

 

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

More articles by:
July 26, 2016
Victor Grossman
Horror and Sorrow in Germany
Nyla Ali Khan
Regionalism, Ethnicity, and Trifurcation: All in the Name of National Integration
Andrew Feinberg
The Good TPP
400 US Academics
Letter to US Government Officials Concerning Recent Events in Turkey
July 25, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
As the Election Turns: Trump the Anti-Neocon, Hillary the New Darling of the Neocons
Ted Rall
Hillary’s Strategy: Snub Liberal Democrats, Move Right to Nab Anti-Trump Republicans
William K. Black
Doubling Down on Wall Street: Hillary and Tim Kaine
Russell Mokhiber
Bernie Delegates Take on Bernie Sanders
Quincy Saul
Resurgent Mexico
Andy Thayer
Letter to a Bernie Activist
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan is Strengthened by the Failed Coup, But Turkey is the Loser
Robert Fisk
The Hypocrisies of Terror Talk
Lee Hall
Purloined Platitudes and Bipartisan Bunk: An Adjunct’s View
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of Collective Punishment: Russia, Doping and WADA
Nozomi Hayase
Cryptography as Democratic Weapon Against Demagoguery
Cesar Chelala
The Real Donald Trump
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Propaganda Machinery and State Surveillance of Muslim Children
Denis Conroy
Australia: Election Time Blues for Clones
Marjorie Cohn
Killing With Robots Increases Militarization of Police
David Swanson
RNC War Party, DNC War Makers
Eugene Schulman
The US Role in the Israeli-Palestine Conflict
Nauman Sadiq
Imran Khan’s Faustian Bargain
Peter Breschard
Kaine the Weepy Executioner
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail