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Recent events and our own mortality

My blog has been silent for the past few weeks.  Partially because life got crazy and partially because the world got crazy, and I was too busy thinking about it to write about it.

In just the past few weeks, 5 members of an innocent Jewish family were killed in Itamar, Israel by terrorists, Japan had an earthquake and tsunami of historic proportions followed by numerous nuclear meltdowns, we (kinda) went to war with Libya, and then yesterday, yet another horrific terrorist attack in Jerusalem in which someone I know (!), or at least know their family very well, was one of the people seriously injured.

At first, with the slaying of the Fogel family in Israel, including their 3 month old daughter, I hugged my little Munchkin #2 closer and squeezed his mush a little tighter.  He’s only a month and a half older than Hadas Fogel.  I gave him more kisses and reveled in his smiles.  I said my nighttime prayers with a little more attention and I asked myself the question, if this was the last night I went to sleep, would I be content with what I have done?

I almost freaked myself out.  And really, it’s because who wants to face their own mortality?? Answer: absolutely noone.

I’ll confess.  My biggest fear ever (and I mean EVER) is of dying.  There I said it.  I’ve known it for years but this is probably the first time that I’ve verbalized it (ok, wrote-a-lized it).  The refrain that has been running in my head whenever this fear pops up is: I’m too young.  I have too much to accomplish.  I’m not done yet with this world and I don’t want to leave it. And I’ve tried to convince myself that G-d and I are on the same page in this matter.  When I became frum, there was a little voice that countered with, whatever is G-d’s plan is His plan and I need to be on good terms with that. But that little voice was never strong enough to really counter all the emotions that this topic brings up.

Then, I go through the what ifs.  Ok – what if someone (G-d forbid!) broke into our house at night. What would I do.  And I’ve planned it out.  I would lock the door at the top of the stairs (that should delay them at least a little while), call 911, wake my husband, grab the kids and head outside to the balcony off the guest bedroom to wait for help.  (Not necessarily in that order).

Someone tell me that I’m not the only one who has outlined this scenario for themselves.

And depending on the world news that was the impetus to these morbid thoughts, I have a strategy for any fear of dying that might enter my consciousness.  (Please someone – you can tell me privately – tell me that I’m not the only one who does this!)

Maybe because I’m a planner or maybe because I need to convince myself that I will triumph over any threat, planning out these scenarios just makes me feel better.

But for all the planning I do for these unforeseen and most dreaded events, the one thing I haven’t done is write a will.

I was recently interviewed by a friend of mine who is writing an article on this exact topic – why intelligent, responsible people can’t seem to get over the hump that exists between knowing one has to write a will and actually doing it.

My parents have been nudging my husband and I to do this since we were expecting Munchkin #1.  We didn’t.  Then, I got worried when we were waiting for Munchkin #2 and I was going to try to VBAC, so I started getting things together for a Living Will and eventually finished that and had it notarized.  I even talked to a lawyer to find out what was involved with a real will.  But, I STILL haven’t done anything.

It occurred to me while talking to my friend last night that this is a subject that is so taboo I’ve never heard anyone except my parents and this friend talk about it.  And that made me wonder…

Do my peers and friends think the same way I do?  Is this more of a necessity for me than many of my college friends because I have children and assets (thank G-d)? And why does noone talk about it?  Are they embarassed they haven’t done it? Or is it a truly private matter?

Or is it really because the prospect of facing our own mortality is just too terrifying to contemplate?

For me, I really this it’s the latter.  There is so much I would like to do to prepare for what to me is really the worse case scenario of life:  write a will, record videos for my family and children saying all the things I want to say to them, make sure everything is financially in order, leave detailed instructions for my children’s future guardians, finally start and finish my scrapbook of my South American travels from now 4 years ago (minor detail, but that would bug me if I left it unfinished), and at least live one day to the best I possibly can in terms of my commitment to the tenets of my faith.

But I think that this fear I have, of even just contemplating my own mortality, will prevent most if not all of that from getting done.

I’m just wondering if I’m not alone in this.

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