Tomorrow I become another year older.
I’ve never worried much about my age. I didn’t panic at 40, and I’m certainly not going to let 52 get to me, either. But recently I was faced with truly understanding my own mortality, and it’s made me consider a lot of things in a different way than I used to.
We all want to be remembered when we’re gone. In a way, having stories published on paper means we’ll be immortal. Even when our bodies are deep beneath the earth, someone, somewhere will be able to pick up a book and read what we said, experience a piece of our souls that was consigned to the ages thanks to the miracle of publishing. It’s a reassuring feeling. I sometimes look at the copy of Mad Kestrel that sits on my desk and think, “I wonder if someone will read this book fifty years from now?” It’s the natural state of human beings to want to know someone remembers them.
I just finished spending nearly a month taking care of a family member who suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s Disease. If you’re somehow unfamiliar with the condition, it’s a hideous theft of identity and memory that no one recovers from. Not only had my family member forgotten what she liked to eat or where she grew up, but she didn’t know me as anyone but the nice lady who was kind to her. I would remind her of my name, but there was no recognition in her eyes when she repeated it. It was just a word, no different from any other words she would hear in the course of a day. This was a woman who raised two children, earned her Master’s degree and taught high school for twenty years, but now she can no longer write her own name. It’s a horrible tragedy that we have to watch her slowly decline into nothingness.
It occurred to me that I may someday be in a similar situation. I’m not old, but we have no way of knowing what life holds for us. Procrastinating on putting the words together cheats me out of my immortality. So I’ve become determined to write more stories while my hands are strong enough to type the words and my brain is healthy enough to create characters and challenges. I want to live forever.
Are y’all with me?