Sitting in the theater watching The Hunger Games last night, a scene in which a character dies set my mind off on a not-focusing-on-the-movie tangent.

I really hope that’s what it’s like to die, I thought. Peaceful, bright – and I’d really like to have someone I love in view – someoneS, really – if I have to fade away from consciousness rather than die in my sleep.

Morbid thoughts while I’m supposed to be entertained at the movies, no?

I can’t help it. Death has been an underlying note in my life for as long as I can remember. My birth mom died when I was 22 months old. I don’t have any memories before then, so “Mommy died” has just been my reality. (The mom I write about is my stepmom, but she’s been Mom to me since I was 3 – she didn’t replace my first mom, she just added to my Mom Reality.)

Reality. It’s different for everyone. We only know what we live. I say this all the time to people who tell me they feel badly for complaining about difficulties with singletons while I’m wrestling triplets.

I don’t know any different, and neither do you, I say.

It’s true.

That being said, I’ve never thought my always-there thoughts about death are strange. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. Whatever the case, they’re always there.

I got my first (and only to date) tattoo in celebration of outliving my birth mom. Writing it like that makes it seem rude, but I swear it isn’t. You look up to your parents in a lot of ways. Some are normal, some not so much. I always looked at age 24 as some sort of expiration. If my mom didn’t live to see 25, why would I?

My tattoo isn’t terribly creative; it may even be a bit cliche. It says, “Carpe diem,” and it’s there to remind me that life is meant to be lived, that I’ve lived more days than my mom ever did and that I need to make the most of them to honor her and what she was never able to see.

I’ll turn 30 this year, and, while I’ve long surpassed my mom’s age at her death and have been married to my wonderful husband longer than she even knew my dad, I’m coming up on another milestone I’m horrified to admit I’ve wondered if I’d see.

Though much of her time as my mom was spent battling leukemia away from home, my mom spent a short 22 months with me.

It’s so unfair.

My trio are 16 months old now, and I cannot – will not – imagine leaving them in a mere 6 months.

They’re such amazing individuals now, but they’re so tiny and compact and just bursting with potential. The people they’re going to grow into are people I know nothing about. Thinking about not sharing their experiences, being there to laugh with them or to hold them while they cry … it feels like I’ve been punched in my windpipe.

This is the final milestone that’ll take me past my mom’s Big Life experiences. While it can’t come soon enough, I know better than to wish away the time between now and then just to get it over with. I’m hopeful the end of comparable experience will end my always-there fears of death. After all, my dad and the mom who raised me are still here today and have paved long, healthy lives for me to follow behind. I’ve barely begun to match what they’ve done in life. Grandchildren! I don’t even want to think that far ahead!

***

As a consolation prize for reading about my brain’s morbid zone, a photo! And a video! Neither will punch you in the windpipe, I promise.

Callista is our lovebug, almost always willing to give kisses (open-mouthed, of course). I love this stage. They’re really into showing affection for us and for each other. Just this morning, Callista patted Eleanor’s tummy while Eleanor was fussing about something, and I’ve seen both girls pat and rub heads and backs of their crying siblings. Toby isn’t overly affectionate with his sisters, but he does like to rub their hair sometimes. I pretend it’s because he loves them, not just because their hair feels nice to touch.

Technology-loving toddlers are difficult to photograph and get on video. They’re way too interested in cameras to keep playing or whatnot, but I was in the right place (the kitchen) at the right time (they were distracted) and am so happy to have one of their adorable rounds of Peekaboo on video.

The Charlotte March for Babies is at the end of this month, and our team could really use your help! One in eight babies (three for three with us!) are born prematurely, but preemies aren’t the only ones who benefit from the March of Dimes. Babies with chronic illnesses and mothers in danger of delivering prematurely benefit from the work they do. Please consider donating to our team this year – it only takes a few minutes, and every dollar counts. Click on the box in my sidebar and help us honor our March of Dimes miracles!

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8 Responses to Carpe diem

  1. I know what you mean, about thinking about death and such…it’s a harsh reality. but thank you for sharing, because it reminded me that other people think about that stuff too.

    and OMGOSHcute! How fun are your kiddos?!

  2. Brittany says:

    I understand what you mean about death and whatnot, lately my sister and I have discussed how our dad is not that much younger than our grandpa was when he found out he had a terminal disease and died a few months later, neither of us can think about that happening.

    But I just died from the cute on that video!! Adorable!

  3. Melissa says:

    Oh thank God! I’m not the only one who thinks like this. I’m always thinking I’m going to lose my Mom or Dad at any time. My Dad was 4 years younger than me when his Dad died and I feel like I’m just waiting for something to happen. I also make myself sick sometimes, thinking about myself dying. I’m sure that sounds selfish but I just think my kids would have no mother, they aren’t even old enough to remember me. So glad I’m not the only one with morbid thoughts, occasionally/often.

  4. Abigail says:

    I have to stop myself from focusing on death too much. I haven’t been touched by it quite as directly as some but since my dad is as old as most people my age’s grandparents I feel like it’s always hanging over my head waiting to strike.

    I’m glad you ended with the adorable picture and video though. Nothing takes your mind off death like watching toddlers fully enjoying life.

  5. Adrienne says:

    “We only know what we live.” So simple, so true. Puts a lot into perspective for me, thank you. Your babies are precious!

  6. MomEinstein says:

    I’ve thought about what would happen if I died. It made me cry and tearfully force my husband to promise to find a nice woman to remarry so my daughter could grow up with a Mom and have someone who would sing her bedtime songs. Of course, I also requested that he wait an appropriate amount of time before finding someone new. It’s only fair.

  7. Tameka says:

    About 6 years ago, the thought of leaving this earth prematurely and leaving the princess motherless at 2 years old was very much a part of my reality. I think back on that time and can’t even imagine what might have happened. I’m just grateful that I am still able to be here and watch her grow up. I got a tattoo in commemoration of still being alive as well, it’s incredibly original…a butterfly. 😉

  8. My windpipe is crushed with the thought, but you are not alone in your death thoughts. ((((()))))

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