It was a dark and windy Friday night, when the creeping terrors began to stalk me… inching ever-nearer… closing in closer and closer around me. There may as well have been a shaky camera shot from the psychotic killer’s point of view (I guess that would be a super-magnified shot of my cellular activity) and foreboding, eerie music.
It’s my own private horror film, ladies and gentlemen, with screenings nightly.
And seriously, you can ask my big brother, I cannot watch horror films – never could. I’m a total chicken. I watched The Shining in the ‘80s and I still get nightmares about those creepy twins in the hallway. Depending on the carpet and wallpaper, I won’t walk unescorted down certain hotel corridors to this very day. So you can imagine how well I do when the horror film plot centres around me as the constantly stalked target of unspeakable evil.
And Friday night, there I was once again, playing the victim, getting all freaked out and terrified and tearful. I slid deeper under the duvet, but it was no use trying to hide! The floorboards creaked in the hallway and the bedroom door slooowly opened… And in walked my husband.
“Hey. What’s going on here?” he asked, seeing me all balled up under the duvet, hugging my knees.
“Um, just having a little freak out.” I squeaked.
“Ohlalamonamourvraiment” He said, just like that, all in one mashed-up French word that basically means “Oh no, not again.” He plopped down on the bed and gathered me up in his arms.
“Yup,” I said, “I’m freaking out that I’m going to die and wondering how you and Georgia are going to handle it…” Which was only partly true. What I was specifically freaking out about was whether Georgia should be at my funeral or whether it would screw her up for life.
I know. How morbid! How horribly melodramatic! Even I can’t stand it – I want to slap myself to snap me out of it.
Luckily I’m not in charge of consoling me and my husband isn’t a slapper. Usually he lets me cry it out, probably feeling helpless as hell, until he can safely say something to make me smile or laugh and we can wade hand in hand out of the muck of fear and sadness onto terra firma again. Or terra temporarily less squelchy.
Not this time. This time he wasn’t having any of this terrorized woman hiding under the duvet crap. He was even a little bit stern with me (which honestly is a tactic I might employ with myself if I were in fact in charge of consoling me.)
He told me that I am not gone yet and that I need to stop imagining myself gone. He asked me – actually pleaded with me – to stay here-and-now, to try hard to stop thinking about death. And if I can’t, then at least to try to stop letting it into the bedroom at night right before I’m supposed to fall asleep, because even if it can be liberating to confront fears of death, it sure isn’t conducive to sleep.
This is obviously extremely sensible, extremely practical, especially coming from a Frenchman. And he wasn’t taking no for an answer, either. So I agreed. Actually I was surprisingly relieved to be bossed around like that; to be instructed to stop thinking about the big D, just when I had laid claim to being allowed to think and talk about it whenever I want to. Because I realized that it’s a fine line, and if I’m not careful, it’s not me that lays claim to the fear, but the fear that will claim me.
Not that anybody should get any ideas about bossing me around on a regular basis.
Now, what I really need to do is move the stack of cancer books away from my bedside and get my hands on a few good novels. Preferably not anything that involves creepy little girls with big foreheads and matching dresses.