What Science Fiction Phenomenon The Walking Dead Taught Me About Mortality
September 19, 2015
I debated a long time about writing this post. I’m not usually a very deep sharer, if you will. I prefer to keep my private thoughts and fears private. But in this particular instance, I’m wondering if other people have experienced the same thoughts that I have during this whole pregnancy adventure. So please, feel free to share your own words, and maybe we can learn from each other, or at the very least, feel like we aren’t the only one to ever experience something.
I am over the moon about our daughter coming into the world. I can’t wait to squeeze her and see her tiny little fingers for the first time. But I have noticed that this whole process has triggered something else in my head, something far less fun to talk about: I know it’s completely ridiculous, and that I have no control over the world spinning, but it’s almost as though I feel like by deciding to have children, I have given permission for time to pass into a different phase, as if I’d somehow given permission for the aging process to begin. Since I found out I was pregnant I have become more aware than I have ever been that there will eventually be a time where my parents and our dogs will no longer be here on this earth with us, and my heart is breaking. (***Note: I have a HUGE phobia of something happening to my husband, a deep, penetrating fear that goes deep to my bones that makes it extremely difficult to watch him get on an airplane, but that started long before I got pregnant, and is a story for another post)
My parents and I have always been very close. I am an only child, and until I got married, we didn’t have much extended family in the area. There was never a performance or recital where I looked out into the audience and didn’t see my parents waving back at me. I always knew that my mom would be standing in the kitchen watching Northwest Afternoon when I got home from school, and if I was lucky, the house would smell of cookies. They always made sure I knew they were there for me, and we helped each other through anything life threw our way. Now that I’m married, they show the same unending support to my husband, and what was three has now become four.
My dogs are my babies. Period. They are my children and I love them as such (if you are one of those people who doesn’t think of your dogs as your kids/a member of your family, you are entitled to your opinion, but you might as well unfollow my blog because I talk about them all the time). The first year of Bee’s life, I was pretty much by myself. My good friends were spread across many states, and in some cases, across the world. Of course I had my parents, but when you are at the age where you are years out of college, you usually want to hang out with people your own age. So needless to say, my social life was scant at best. It was Bee and I against the world. She took care of me as much as I took care of her, if not more. When I’d be getting depressed as I popped in a movie that I had just picked up from the video store (again), she would snuggle up in the nape of my neck, as if to say “don’t worry, mom, you have me, and everything’s going to be fine.” And she was right. Besides that, I liked her more than I liked most people anyway.
I met Bubba on my third date with my husband. When I walked in his house for the first time, a little teddy-bear-face greeted me at the door, and I’m sure my heart just exploded. He looked up at me with his big brown eyes, and has spent his every waking moment (and his sleeping moments as it were) making me smile. He snorts when he’s happy, and I’m pretty sure if that sound doesn’t melt your heart then you have no soul. All he ever wants from the world is to snuggle and get belly rubs, and of course, to tell his mom and dad how much he loves them with a thousand kisses.
So before I get to what The Walking Dead has to do with any of this, I have to give you a little bit of background on my personal spiritual structure. I believe in God. Part of that belief comes from coming up with answers to the universe’s most puzzling questions. One of the most haunting ones that comes up when someone is trying to decide what they think about such an important aspect of life is this: why do bad things happen to good people, and vice versa? A great question, and a valuable one. The answer that I have come up with that makes sense to me, is this: all things in the universe exist in balance. You can’t know what good means without bad. You can’t know what fairness is without unfairness to compare it to. Everything is somewhat defined by what it isn’t, and some things in God’s great world come at a price.
Which brings me to The Walking Dead, and something that The Governor (of all people) said during one episode. If you are a fan, you know that The Governor is not usually someone you would look to as a purveyor of universal wisdom. But that day, he said something that stuck with me. A person was suffering, going over every good and bad decision he had made in his life, and The Governor told him it was “time to pay the bill.”
No one likes to suffer, or looks forward to it. But in certain situations, the reason WHY we suffer is because we had something so wonderful. Loss would not be so profoundly difficult if the thing we lost wasn’t precious. If my parents spent my childhood passing me from babysitter to random relative to some random boarding school out of state instead of giving me the best childhood anyone could ask for, if they had removed themselves from my life as an adult by just not giving a shit, the suffering that losing them will bring would be significantly less. If I hadn’t been able to call my mom several times a day, and get advice from my dad whenever I needed it, maybe the wound wouldn’t cut so deep. If our dogs didn’t bring so much unconditional joy into our lives, maybe I wouldn’t be broken apart when they leave this earth. If they didn’t make my husband and I so happy every time they curled up to sleep on our laps, maybe our hearts would remain in tact.
When the tab comes due, we have to pay for the gifts we are given. The suffering that is imminent (though hopefully years away) is terrifying, and I know it will be a big job to put me back together again. I thank God that I have the best husband in the world, and that we will carry each other through it, but we will both be hurting deeply. But would either of us choose to give up the goodness that has been brought into our lives by my parents, Bee and Bubba? Never. It’s going to hurt because they are worth hurting for. Our hearts are going to break because they were made so full.