After Teddy was born, I told Brian that I wanted to buy life insurance. He didn't really respond, but I went ahead and scheduled a guy to come out to the house to talk to us about it. When this poor guy came out, Brian was not in the mood to talk. It was after a long day of work and we were trying to get Teddy to bed, so I admit, they weren't great circumstances. Brian answered the questions he needed to answer, but he was not happy about it. I forged ahead anyway, driven by the simple reality that my salary mattered a lot to our finances and Heaven forbid, if anything ever happened to me, my family would be financially screwed.
Brian and I got into a fight after the guy left. Eventually, I ended up feeling like a jerk. Because where I thought Brian was being totally irresponsible by not being as enthusiastic as I was about buying life insurance, I came to realize that Brian was just really struggling with the thought that comes with any conversation about life insurance -- that something bad could happen to me. Of course, that was very sweet. And I took it as a green light to keep going with the process to sign us up.
I never realized how much one's health and other demographic factors effect the cost of life insurance. The very fact that I was a female made my rates lower than Brian's. Being non-smokers did wonders for us. A few days later, a nurse came out to the house and took blood and the insurance company contacted our doctors. Ultimately I was placed in the healthiest possible bracket and for a few years since, money has been automatically debited from our account for our life insurance policies. It may be some pretty dark humor, but I do sometimes chuckle at the fact that at 29 years old, I bought life insurance at a darn good rate, and before a breast cancer diagnosis dropped me into a whole new bracket.
Brian's probably going to like this entry about as much as he liked the insurance salesman visiting our house that night. But just like that night, I'm sure he'll be a trooper. Meanwhile, I know I need to be sensitive to the fact that it is really hard to talk, or read, about these things.
I have been in a positive place in the last few days. Still, that stupid cancer word haunts me, and I have fleeting dark thoughts, especially when I remember that I will be at least two weeks behind my scheduled chemotherapy regimen. Lately, I have felt like such a hypocrite, even a fraud, when I have those thoughts, especially after I write about optimism or courage. I push them out quickly, but I'd be lying to say that I still can't push them out for good. The timing of those thoughts can be totally crazy. For instance, yesterday I was cutting Annabel's toe nails. Her little toe nails curl under almost immediately after they grow so I cut them often to make sure that they don't become ingrown. She's so good about it, even kind of likes it, so it's not a battle like the all-out throw-downs I used to have with Teddy when I did the same thing. Yesterday when I was cutting her nails, I couldn't help but think to myself -- If anything ever happened to me, would Brian know to cut her nails every week? I thought the same things as I put the big Poland Spring bottles out for the delivery guy to pick them up and replace them with full ones. Despite my compulsive organization skills, I still forget to put those bottles out sometimes. How many would stack up in the garage if I wasn't around?
I've probably already made this crystal clear before, but the truth is that my husband is absolutely amazing. On a regular day, he picks up the kids from school, plays with them, makes them dinner, makes me dinner, and has them in the bath before I even get home from work. In the rare instance that I try to do what he does, it's usually an embarrassing disaster. So trust me, I have to search far for things like toe nails and water bottles to find things that I worry wouldn't get done in my absence. It's that very thought that sometimes brings me unparalleled peace.
I realize now that I have grown from my seat at this computer. Where I used to need this space as a way to keep breathing, to keep moving forward every morning, it's slowly evolved for me. It is still my therapeutic place, but it's something more. So often as I sit here now, I am writing to my kids. I am writing things about me and my memories that I want them to know. In an odd way, I am taking out a different kind of life insurance policy.
There are a lot of people that are not going to be at all happy that I have flashes of planning for my own absence. But really, it's not a morbid thing and it by no means negates my optimism, my hope, or my faith that I will beat cancer. Just like I didn't buy life insurance because I thought I was going to die. But my writing sometimes provides me a peace that those automatic monthly debits always provide to me -- that I am giving my kids everything I can while I am here in body with them, including making sure that they have what they need if for some reason I can only be here with them in spirit.
Teddy knows about my blog. The son of a current and a former Social Studies teacher, he has a natural fascination with maps and so I tell him about the different countries where readers reside (through Google Analytics I am able to see that readers in almost 80 different countries have read the blog -- so neat!). He often asks me who read the blog today and I tell him the names of the countries. This week we talked about Croatia, Greece, and the United Arab Emirates. Teddy has never asked me what I write about, but I'm sure that question is coming so I should plan my answer. (I think once I may have proactively blabbed to him that I write about my feelings but I'm wondering now if that was good enough.)
Come to think of it, I should just plan my answer now, so that I don't forget. I think I'd tell him (or Annabel if she wants to pretend to understand) that I write about my life. I write about things that happened in my past, things that I am dealing with in the present, and things that I hope for the future. Yes, I do write about my feelings -- both good ones and bad ones. I write about the truth, because it helps people to read that. And I write because there are things I want my kids to know about me and my family and my friends that I know I'd never get in at the dinner table while we're fighting over whether or not they've eaten enough broccoli to be excused. That's what I think I'd say. But I'll think more about it because I'm sure I could do better.
A few weeks ago, my friend Lynne and I met for lunch. Afterwards, she gave me a pink binder full of every blog I had written through the day prior, as well as a gorgeous blanket with pink ribbons that she had knitted herself. I couldn't believe she had taken the time to knit that blanket for me, or to cut and paste and print all of my writing. Eighty or so entries later, that binder was full. Lynne has no idea what that binder means to me, or what it will mean to my kids one day. To be honest, I don't think I can comprehend it all yet either. What I do know is that one day, I'll hand that binder to them myself, and they'll read through it learning things about me and Brian and our family and friends that they never knew, but for which, I hope, they will be very proud. And hopefully by that time, I'll just be pissed that we spent so much money on life insurance.