The Most Romantic Gift I Ever Received
I’ve written about several people who have supported and moved me in the last four years. But, there’s been one glaring omission: my husband Eric. I’ve been paralyzed. How to begin to capture that love? It’s so big and complex and so very personal. I could go through the laundry list of all he has sacrificed and done for me in the past 4 years — it’s an impressive list — but instead I’d rather share a story of a recent gift, which I think captures his love and dedication better than anything.
This story starts in an unexpected place: death planning.
Don’t panic. I’m not expecting anything imminently. I’ve enjoyed stability on my medication for a while, knock wood (sneaking in Update #14 here: January scans were good!). But, Stage IV LC is no joke. I know where I stand, and I think preparation is helpful.
Death planning is a complicated area involving all sorts of medical, legal, financial, and logistical choices; many extremely emotionally fraught. I’ve been totally overwhelmed by the task — this is a topic that needs (and will eventually get) its own post. For this post, I am focusing on one of my easier “to do” death prep tasks: picking out a burial plot. When all else fails, go shopping, amirite?
Before I started shopping, I consulted with my rabbi. I’m not very religious, but this seems like an area where one might want to avoid tempting the fates. Was it kosher to purchase a burial plot in advance, or would that bring on bad juju (jew jew?). My rabbi’s answer surprised me. He said that not only is it ok and a kindness to your survivors, it’s considered a good omen. Something along the lines of the Yiddish proverb “man plans, G-d laughs.” In other words, just when you think you have a clue how things are going to go (and that you need to prepare for death), G-d shows you how little you really know, and who’s really in charge (and has you live a nice long time). Classic Jewish logic — somehow buying a burial plot becomes less morbid and more like life insurance. Apparently, the Jewish G-d is a contrarian smart ass. Given her progeny, I have to admit …. seems legit.
Ok, so now with the full force of Jewish theology and smart-assery at my back, I returned to my more familiar religious practices: comparison shopping. I checked out several cemeteries, picked a favorite and began the purchasing process. This is a major purchase. Burial plots are not cheap, and there’s lots of add-ons and hidden costs. We had to consider all sorts of things: did we want to pay in installments? pre-purchase the maintenance or the headstone? get the extra detailing package with tinted windows? Oh wait, that last one was for my Toyota. Anyhow, I thought we had discussed all the variables, but somehow, I had missed one.
When Eric and I showed up to make the purchase, the saleslady greeted us in the entry and, casual as can be, said “So, is this for one plot or two?”
OMG. How had I overlooked this? I realize now, I had just assumed I was flying solo on this, since I was the one with the life-threatening disease. Eric should have many healthy years in front of him (knock wood again – sorry, I have a touch of the superstitions), and should I not be here to share those years with him, I hope he finds a new partner. I love him, and I’m practical. All this flashed through my mind in an instant, while he, without a moment’s hesitation, responded simply, “two.”
Two. The word “two.” That’s the most romantic gift I ever received. Uttered not as some grand overture or sacrifice, just as a matter-of-fact, something he’d been assuming all along. I’d been assuming I was alone in this process, and he had been by my side the entire time.
Cue the tears.
The other piece of the gift was the actual purchase. What can I say? Some women want jewelry, some women want burial plots. Or maybe, just this one woman. And, as fortune would have it, it WAS my birthday. (No joke, as a ridiculous coincidence, we’d made the appointment to finalize this transaction on my birthday, which my friends found appalling, but I found kind of hilarious and awesome.)
But, seriously. This man.
I love him.