My list is my own list


My body is revolting. It is telling me things about the life I have lived and the myriad of ways I have abused it. I am 54. I could easily live 30 more years or more based on my health as I saw it 30 years ago. But now, I get warning signs. I lose friends. Friends younger than I are dying suddenly. I am surrounded by cancer.

Why have I written all these very not-cheerful words? Because we all have a time when we face ourselves. For some it is at 40. For others, 70. For me it was 50, but I ignored it until this past year. I became overly sentimental and mawkish about the smallest details. Everything meant something. A cough, a twinge, a sudden chill.

Well, I have left off the over-attention to death paranoia, for the most part, and settled into a sensible way of looking at things, the way one ‘puts their papers in order.’ A cliché, but a worthy one. I can think of no other phrase that covers it fully that we all understand. Put your things in order. Put your papers in order. Preserve, reserve, throw out. Organize. Leave notes. Instructions. Wills. The very word brings a new chill.

But I owe my children lots. They were there in the toughest of years. They heard the worst of us. The worst of me. But I am alive. And I love them. I read others occasionally who say ‘too little, too late’. I don’t believe in such nonsense. It is true, I cannot have those years back. I can not have back 1986 to make better decisions that eventually affected my health.

But there is now. This moment. Right now. How long does it take to dial a phone. Write a note. Stamp an envelope? How long to scrawl over a page, ‘I love you and I always will.’ Or, ‘It was not your fault’.

I inherited some rather vile self-loathing that took me years to recover from. I was told things that gave me night terrors. Then there were all the things that were never said. Things like, ‘it wasn’t your fault,’ and ‘if I had a daughter over again, it would be you.’

I read once in a book, a question. It went straight to my heart. It posed the query: ‘Why don’t you want your children to have a better life than you did?’ It concerned abused children who grew up to be neglectful parents, despite their best efforts. Yes, despite their best efforts. I forgive myself for not always being there. I’m here now. We are all still here now.

And so I have started putting my affairs in order, putting my papers in line, my ducks in a row, and picking up the phone more often than not. Because even if I live to be 90, no love is wasted.

I hope you will forgive my wandering thoughts. Certainly I am not the first to think about death and what will come. But it is about time I put it into writing. Someone said, many have said, in their own ways, that understanding death is an important part of living life well.  I am not afraid to die. But I do have some misgivings about the way it comes about, the pain, and the suffering, and the suffering of our families after. But I am not afraid of the end anymore. I am wholly sure that I will spend eternity with my heavenly Father and that part gives me peace.

I leave you with this jisei, my humble version of a Japanese death poem I wrote in 2015. If I understood the genre correctly, it not only looks ahead to death, but reflects on life. Thank you for listening. It means a lot to me.

The last gift


I did not say no
each decadence I tried
days of mirth
endless laughter
every offer to indulge


Now I return
every volume of my life
each longing
every prayer
each gift you gave I savoured


I close my eyes
and listen to my life
to birdsong
to city traffic
each loving and filthy part


13 thoughts on “My list is my own list

  1. “Putting my ducks in a row”
    A date once asked me why it’s so important to people to be remembered after death, and I went on and on about history and crap. But really I think leaving love behind is a symbol of the life you lived.
    Lovely post!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How did your date handle the deep discussion? ^_^ Sounds like a worthy conversation, and not something we want to think about all the time but yes
      leaving love behind, now that’s really something- priceless-

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He handled it pretty well :D he was telling me about all the traveling he’s done for close to two decades, I asked him if he never misses people close to him, and the conversation just went off from there :)


  2. It’s important to savor the moment. It’s easy to say that each could be the last, but it’s more about knowing (or not knowing) what that moment held before the next one presents itself.

    I’m 64, and I’ve been retired for 11 years. 54 was when I became more conscious of my age, but I still haven’t started counting down, quite yet. Even so, another 20 years isn’t all that much, is it? I’ve never worried about the end. My affairs are in order, and paperwork in place. (Although, the latter could use better organization.)

    I know this isn’t necessarily about being remembered, but I’ll touch on that anyway. I don’t worry about being remembered. I have children who will do that. And a love. I have sisters who welcome every visit I make, and a (small) handful of friends who might think of me from time to time. But, both sisters and friends are getting older, and it could be me that ends up missing them.
    I’m in a good place with my children and a very good place with my love.

    For me, keeping those relationships – children, love – in place is of prime importance.


    1. Yes, exactly. That’s where I am at and where my focus is right now in that regard. Keeping those relationships in place. As they should be. Not perfect, but loving, and kind. I don’t think I’m as worried about how I am remembered as I am, that when I go, my children will be a peace with themselves and our lives. That the sweet memories rise above the bitter.

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments, and your continued reading of my work. Means a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. All in all, I am happy with my life. My health is good, I exercise, and I eat well. Still, I wish I had called mom more. I picture mom knitting in her chair, or doing the crossword puzzles we used to do together, the phone at her elbow. I see her walk to the mail box and not finding a letter from me. The Navy took me to all points of the globe for twenty-seven years. I missed her every day for twenty of those years, and I’ve missed her more every day since then.
    Beautiful essay, and one to make us think. The best kind.


Give me your two cents

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.