This is not the first time I’ve asked myself this question. It’s not the first time I’ve been scared.
I have autoimmune disease. You can’t see it, but it’s always there, waiting for a moment of weakness, a worry, a stress or strain, a virus…
Waiting to find something to wake it up. Waiting to take away my freedom, my joy, my life.
If I think about it too much, I get sick.
If I think about it too much, I feel myself slipping into the madness of fatigue and headache, body aches and shortness of breath.
If I think about it too much, I open the door and let it in.
So I try not to think about it. I think about blessings. About my kids, my husband. About sunsets and bluebirds and Freedom of Speech.
I think about laundry, and grocery lists, and Zoom meetings.
I think about Oreos and milk, and backwards push-ups, and water bottles with straws versus without.
But in the darkness, when I’m so tired, when the teeth are brushed and the goodnights have been exchanged, the question is there, waiting…
What if I die?
What happens to my older son, who has two dad’s who will both want him?
What happens to my younger son, who is still young enough for memories of mom to fade if she suddenly disappeared.
What happens to my husband, who gracefully and gently maintains the promise In Sickness and In Health, but didn’t sign up for death until there was gray hair and a motorhome involved.
What about our dreams? Our plans?
What about Team Wald?
What happens if I die?
I’m not supposed to say it out loud, or write about it, or even think it.
Yet there it is, and here it is, out loud. Because it’s real. And it’s scary and it hurts, and carrying this question around all by myself has proved too heavy.
I am strong.
I can carry a great many things.
I can carry the weight of my diagnosis.
I can carry the weight of the symptoms of my disease.
I can carry the weight of other people’s fears.
I can carry the weight of my own fear.
But I cannot carry this question by myself.
I cannot carry the idea of my husband’s grief.
I cannot carry the idea of my children’s loss of innocence, of childhood, of security.
I am a person of faith.
I am a person who has always trusted that still, small voice. It has never let me down.
This time, the voice tells me that I’m not done yet. I still have more to do here.
When I slow down, and breath, and listen, I can hear it whisper, and I feel some peace.
But in the darkness, the question always returns.
I am not afraid to die.
In fact, I’ve spent the majority of my life being afraid to really live.
I am not afraid to hurt. I’ve hurt before, I can hurt again.
Pain does not scare me.
Loneliness does not scare me.
Darkness never used to scare me, until now.
Because in the darkness is the question.
What if I die?
Copyright © 2020 Sara Beth Wald