Something To Lose

I have never really been afraid of death. I figure it happens to everyone and because of that, it can’t be all that bad. No sense worrying about it if I have absolutely zero control.

When people ask what changed for me after getting married, or what’s different… which really, not that many people have, but I do think about it and do a sort of self evaluation, I would say this. Not that I’m worried I will die, but that the idea of losing Kamel breaks me. And now that it is not just me anymore, I have so many things I need to do before anything unexpected, like up and kicking the bucket, happens.

I’m generally a crier with sad or overly stressful books and movies, so nothing new there, but now I actively avoid stories with spouses who die, or tragic separation, or pretty much any romance that doesn’t work out. I’ll skim the pages, or stop watching the movie. I can’t deal with it. Yes, these things happen, yes it’s just pretend, but it’s also just too close to me.

During the summer of 2006 I spent a lot of time alone, watching the Oprah 25th anniversary DVD collection. Let me tell you – that shit will make you cry every single time. I would finish watching a segment, crying into my sweatshirt sleeve, and then call my then boyfriend to interrogate him in hypotheticals.

“So say that we’re married for like 15 years and I lose both my legs… or that I had a lot of memory loss, like I could only remember things from a long time ago but nothing since 2003 to now, but I could remember things in 15 min intervals and then I would for get again… would you still love me? And stuff?”

And he would ask me if I had been watching Oprah and I would say yes.

That’s how I feel times a thousand. Except now I have a husband, and I can see our long life stretched out before me with all of the twists and turns and possibilities, and I don’t want to lose that. No matter what crap we may go through, I don’t want that road to end for a really long time and I’ve never had that feeling be so real before. It’s no longer a hypothetical. Now we’re a little family, and we’ve got some plans, and the idea of being ripped apart slays me.

To me, even though we lived together during our engagement, I wasn’t married until we were married. It wasn’t “like” being married, it was like being engaged, it was living together and working together and moving forward together but it wasn’t being married. But now the flip has switched, this is it, this is my family, the father of my children, my buddy through every up and down, the person I want to strangle and at the same time protect against everything. Suddenly, I have something to lose.

38 thoughts on “Something To Lose”

  1. I know EXACTLY what you mean. After we were married, I started flipping out over the possibilities. And any time we had a bad morning? I was TERRIFIED that something would happen. Like unable-to-function terrified.

    Learning to live with the fear is hard … but it happens. I’m not really sure when I finally learned to, but I did. Good luck, lovely.

  2. Oh god, I want to APW “Exactly!” this a million times. I don’t know at what exact point in our engagement I had that “no seriously – FOR-EV-ER” realization but I can distinctly remember the feeling and it suddenly felt so REAL. He is it. He is my family. He is my future. He is my forever because everything I do will always include him now. But… Oh god, what if it doesn’t? What if something happens to me? Or him? As completely off the wall wonderful love is, holy cow is it scary sometimes.

    1. I had that “no seriously – FOR-EV-ER” realization In the car, on the way to the church for the ceremony and honestly? I nearly shat myself.

      I have a deep abiding fear that something will happen to Mark. Considering how un-inclined I am to have kids, I get even more upset at the idea of him dying and me not having a kid to hold me here – as someone who had really bad depression for a number of years, I actually think I might not make it if he died… I cant imagine how I would go about my daily life…

      Seriously scary.

  3. I have always had this fear of people close to me dying. It definitely started to haunt me more after M and I got married. You’re right we have something HUGE to lose now, and it can be terrifying.
    I hope I’m not over-sharing, but I have thought about this topic a lot in the last few days.
    Just last week, my grandpa who has been battling cancer was told he only has a few weeks to live. And his wife, my grandma, is a ROCK for him. I kept thinking, if I were in her shoes, I would be absolutely falling apart. But she isn’t. She’s taking care of him and loving him and being strong and he needs that in her. I have been so inspired by her. I want to become that. I am not yet– if something happened to Michael now I don’t know if I could handle it. But by the time I am old, I hope I can. I’ve never seen someone lose a spouse in real life, and it’s always been, in my mind, the worst thing that could possibly happen. But I am seeing it happen now, and she is ok. They are ok. It’s given me a lot of hope.

    1. Maybe things are different after you’ve had a life together, after you’ve had 50 years maybe the panic won’t be so palpable. I don’t know. I really hope that at a certain point I’ll be able to help my loved ones die, if needed, without begging them to stay – which would be my current impulse.

      1. Yes, I think it’s very different after so many years together. I guess, at this point our lives, a spouse’s death would be losing them and losing the future you planned for, together. But in 50 years, you’ll have already had that future together. It seems both easier to lose them at that point, but also harder.

  4. Oh man…I cant tell you how much i know EXACTLY what you mean and how you feel!! I could not agree more. Ever since we got married, Ive noticed that I worry about the Mister more and more. And it gets worse as time goes on! We went dirt bike riding, and I couldnt stop looking back to make sure he was okay, we go wakeboarding and the second he falls im worried and want to make sure hes okay, when he rides the motorcycle to work and isnt home at the exact moment he usually is, i have a panic attack. Im probably making it sound worse than it actually is…but I dont know how NOT to worry. And this post totally says it all. Love can break you down sometimes…but what can you do? I can only imagine when we have kids….!! High. Blood. Pressure.

    1. …And all i can think about in the midst of the worrying…is that if anything were to happen to him…i will NEVER have what we have now. I will NEVER find the kind of love and relationship that we have ever again. Thats scary. And selfish, really.

    2. On our honeymoon I spent a lot of time reading on the beach and kamel would head into the ocean without me. There were a few times, like when someone came out of the water saying that she had seen a shark (probably a dog fish or a large normal fish) or when I felt he had been gone too long, I popped my head up like a prairie dog trying to spot him, and if I couldn’t, I was up and headed toward the beach to find him. One time I even scolded him for being gone too long and not checking in. Sigh..

  5. I like this: “During the summer of 2006 I spent a lot of time alone, watching the Oprah 25th anniversary DVD collection.”

    It was an unexpected and great sentence.

  6. This is exactly what was different for me too. He’s the one who would decide what happens to me if I can’t. If he dies, I will be a widow. It’s like, most people have past boyfriends or girlfriends, but you never go back to not being married no matter what happens. Realizing I may be a widow one day freaks me out a lot. My grandmother gets through it okay, but I look at her and think, I could never be that strong.

  7. i KNOW. man. sometimes I will hear a song and I have a stray thought like “hmm I can imagine this playing at a funeral” and then my brain jumps hyper-speed to it being ZACH’s funeral and I start crying. that definitely never happened before we got married. I worry about freak accidents. I worry about him dying and I worry about me dying (and I definitely worry about our dog dying). ahhh! something to lose indeed.. like my Mind.

    1. the freak accidents.

      Seriously. We were camping this weekend and went climbing on some rocks and I was nearly hyperventilating.

      Not to mention that the Mister has epilepsy, so anytime we’re out doing something fun, which usually involves being out of cell phone range I immediately start planning how I would get him help and/or out of there!

  8. You said so well what the knot in my stomach can’t articulate.

    Lauren – you write beautifully and I just want to say thank you for sharing your world with us.

  9. up above, you said “maybe it gets better”? i think maybe it does. which doesn’t sound ENTIRELY believable to me right now, because i can’t help but think that it’ll get harder to be without him as time goes on and we become more entangled. (eg, the notebook. oh my gosh, the notebook. i didn’t give a damn about ryan-what’s-his-face-gosling?-something and the chick from mean girls. but the OLD COUPLE? oh man, bawled my eyes out for them. [i realize they’re the same couple, sort of, but YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN])

    nevertheless, when i talk to my mom about this stuff, she firmly agrees that this unholy terror is normal. and it’s no longer as bad for her as it once was.

      1. I’m not allowed to watch that movie unless alex is home. Last time i cried so hard my eyelids were swollen shut. wahhhhh

  10. My stepdad passed away three years ago today. My mom and he had a great relationship, but they were only together for ten years (nine of which he had a chronic illness). I know she felt cheated of time, but mostly, she felt grateful for the time they had. It’s a big reminder to me to make it count. Make the minutes, days, years count.

    Now, she is in another serious relationship. He’s different than Rod, but they are in love. It can happen twice.

    These two things give me peace when my anxious brain thinks about the thought of losing my almost-husband. You are stronger than you know.

    1. Shortly after I posted here, my mom re-sent me this quote from Carl Sagan’s widow. I sent it to her shortly after my stepdad’s death. She told me that she still reads it from time to time.

      Regardless of how this does or doesn’t mesh with your spiritual beliefs, the last four sentences are just, wow. They take my breath away every time I read them.

      “When my husband died, because he was so famous and known for not being a believer, many people would come up to me-it still sometimes happens-and ask me if Carl changed at the end and converted to a belief in an afterlife. They also frequently ask me if I think I will see him again. Carl faced his death with unflagging courage and never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don’t ever expect to be reunited with Carl. But, the great thing is that when we were together, for nearly twenty years, we lived with a vivid appreciation of how brief and precious life is. We never trivialized the meaning of death by pretending it was anything other than a final parting. Every single moment that we were alive and we were together was miraculous-not miraculous in the sense of inexplicable or supernatural. We knew we were beneficiaries of chance… . That pure chance could be so generous and so kind… . That we could find each other, as Carl wrote so beautifully in Cosmos, you know, in the vastness of space and the immensity of time… . That we could be together for twenty years. That is something which sustains me and it’s much more meaningful… . The way he treated me and the way I treated him, the way we took care of each other and our family, while he lived. That is so much more important than the idea I will see him someday. I don’t think I’ll ever see Carl again. But I saw him. We saw each other. We found each other in the cosmos, and that was wonderful.”

      1. Ack. That quotation always makes me tear up.

        Lauren, I know. It’s really hard. I’m always afraid if we snip at each other or something when we’re getting ready in the morning that something is going to happen and we’ll never see each other again. It’s terrifying.

  11. Thank you! I hadn’t actually thought about losing the hubster until one night last week, for some reason, it occurred to me. And then there I am, *bawling* at a red light. And all I could think was – you are a crazy person.

    So, thanks for making me feel like I’m not the only crazy person out there!

  12. Yes. Definitely. And, this is also why I now warn the hubs about things, kind of insanely at times. Like, “if you keep having a Coke every day, you’re going to get diabetes and I WANT A LONG HAPPY LIFE WITH YOU SO DON’T GO GETTING A CHRONIC TERRIBLE DISEASE AND DECAYING BEFORE YOU’RE AT LEAST 70.” Or whatever.

  13. okay. lauren. this is a small part of why i adore the hell out of you.

    i am hardly afraid of dying until i think of leaving him alone and then the thought of losing him destroys little pieces of me as well. actually, ginormous, core pieces of me. but you know. no sense worrying about it…right? {sobbing}

  14. I think the moment I knew I really had to marry this person was when I was reading A Death in the Family (which is fabulous but I would not recommend to you at the moment, for obvious reasons!) by James Agee. The husband dies at the beginning while driving alone and you don’t know him as a character yet at all, but nevertheless suddenly I was crying uncontrollably on a plane (I don’t cry in public, as a rule) because I was thinking about what if I died with Eric not there next to me or vice versa and the idea just destroyed me. Maybe as a result, I kind of feel like I am tempting fate anytime I travel without him, and that it is so foolhardy of me to be flying miles and miles and expecting to return to him unharmed.

    I will always remember Meg saying that weddings are always about death. When I first read that it seemed wrong to me, but it seems more and more right all the time.

    1. Yikes. My wife and I can barely stand to be DRIVING anywhere in any kind of weather without each other, let alone flying. It does feel like tempting fate, doesn’t it? It’s scary.

  15. Dude. Same here… except since we lost Phoenix and I felt how immensely and completely sad I was… I became even more paranoid about losing James, now understanding how completely wrecked I would be. Not a good feeling. And James? He is even worse than me. The man is convinced he has terrible luck and will lose me in some tragic way and so he yanks me backwards everytime I try to cross the road first… convinced a cars will take me out unless he guides me across by the hand.

  16. Very late, but wanted to write something. I totally agree about the not worrying about my death.

    However, to be left alone without my Bean seems so hideously unthinkable and I feel completely selfish about him never leaving me.

    Then I realise I don’t want him to go because he was the one who broke/made me! I can’t imagine being with anyone else because of him. So it’s all his bloody fault!

    Is it bad to already feel like it would be simply perfect to die on the same day – together?

    (And now tears – bugger!)

  17. What struck me after we were married was how deeply I became intertwined with him and visa versa. Suddenly his successes were my successes, his failures mine. Even though I knew on a cognitive level that this would happen, the depth and strength of it was unimaginable.

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