FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

It Wouldn’t Kill Me to Die

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   

 

More articles by:

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

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail