I’ve never been afraid of dying.
It’s true. I have friends who worry
about their deaths a lot, friends
who take an array of supplements
so they can live as long as possible,
the kind of people who inwardly rage
that they were born too soon
before we learned how to live forever.
I’ve never really understood that.
I’ve always wanted to live
as if I could be hit by a bus tomorrow,
wanted to live fully, saying everything
that needed to be said,
doing what needed to be done.
People say to me, often,
“I don’t know how you do so much!”
They don’t understand —
I’m trying to pack it all in.
But now I have a problem.
My father is seventy,
works full-time, takes long walks,
watches what he eats — in some ways
looks better now than he did
a decade ago. I may have him
for a long time yet, but I can also see
the day is coming, like the day
when I was small. The letter came
across the wide ocean,
on onionskin paper, thin and blue,
telling him his father was dead.
The only day I saw him weep.
And now, I have a daughter, a son;
I want to give them everything.
I had my children late in life,
and I may not be here to meet
their children, should they have them.
That is a regret.
But my fear, my terror, is that
I will leave too soon. A stroke,
a heart attack, a cancer will descend
and carry me off while they are still
too small to understand. I have friends
who lost a parent young. They went on,
built good lives, full of love, but I’m not sure
they ever recovered completely.
And even if I survive
another seventeen years,
until my son is twenty-one,
until they are both, technically, adults —
I do not know if there will be
enough time to tell them
everything. Everything I want
to say. This is what I want to say.
I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, my dears.
For you – for you, I would have lived