"Momma, you're not going to die."
We were all in the car when Nathan said this to me, returning home on a random Thursday from a photo shoot for our church's directory, and I couldn't have been taken more off-guard. Luke's grandmother passed away a few months ago, and since then we've had on-going conversations about death and what it means, but still, kids are masters at the element of surprise.
Luke and I shot glances at each other before I started talking about how everything that is born has a lifecycle, and lifecycles are different for each type of creature, and many people live a very long time and that I probably would, too, because in our family we work hard to stay safe and live in a healthy way. And hey, turtles can live to be over a hundred years old! And afterwards, we get to see God and Jesus in Heaven!
Nathan took my response under careful consideration. We pulled into the garage.
"Momma, I don't want to die."
I freed him from his carseat and hugged him to my chest.
"I don't, either," I replied. Then he ran into the house, asking for cookies.
Maybe - just maybe - I could've handled that better.
The following Tuesday, I went in for my first mammogram.
I scheduled it after my last physical at the recommendation of my doctor, since two of my mother's sisters were diagnosed with breast cancer before menopause and apparently that is a big deal. One is in remission, thank goodness, and the other, my auntie Debbie, passed away six years ago (WOW) from complications ultimately related to brain cancer. Her daughter was only four when she received that diagnosis - the same age Kara is now.
The results of my mammogram came back normal, but MAN, talk about a reminder that life is short.
Life is short.
One of my biggest shortcomings is my tendency to wait for inspiration, forgetting it's in the act of doing that we are inspired. For example:
Ever since I was a little girl, I've wanted to write a book. I cranked out tons of short stories in grade school and gave them to my teachers as presents. (Yes, 'lil Frema was quite adorable.) In seventh grade I tied for first place in the Chicago Young Authors Contest for a story about a hit-and-run, and got an A+ when I submitted THE VERY SAME STORY as a final writing assignment my senior year in high school. In eighth grade, more than half the messages in my autograph book ended with, "I can't wait to read your first book!" In high school I laid the groundwork for Tragic Love Friday with my two-part soap opera miniseries. I majored in English in college.
Today? No book.
I can offer a number of excuses as to why that is. I'm not as jazzed about creative writing as I used to be. Blogging satisfies my need to be published. I'm not sure what I want to say. I can't find the time. I'm scared.
But none of them are true except the last one, and that is not good enough.
So last week, I made a declaration to my peeps on Facebook.
I wasn't sure what I wanted to write - something non-fiction, probably, to put my inner monologue to good use - but that didn't matter. I would figure it out. Do it, and then you will be motivated to do it.
Everyone was so generous with encouragement and praise that I forgot about all the reasons I had for not doing it earlier.
And two days later, on my way home from work, driving in the pouring rain, Nelson on the radio, my idea just came to me. Themes and chapter titles were scrolling across my mind like the stock ticker on a news broadcast, and I just started crying.
Shortly after my announcement on Facebook, one of my middle-school friends commented, "I've been waiting since 7th grade!"