Being an adult can be hard – very hard. Sometimes, being an adult just plain sucks. B and I have been talking about this off and on for months – that we’re getting to the age when bad things are going to start happening to us, to our friends, etc. Things like sickness, divorce, dying parents, etc. We can’t stop time, and we’re all marching closer and closer to these types of events, if we realize it or not.
My grandpa passed away just before Bryson was born. He was my last living grandparent, and although I took the passing of Grandpa quite well, I still couldn’t help but feel fearful and sad thinking, “I guess our parents are next.” What I mean by that is that our parents’ generation is next. I’ll begin losing aunts and uncles, watching my friends lose parents, and possibly lose my own parents earlier than expected. It’s “the cycle of life,” as my dad so coolly puts it whenever the topic of my grandpa comes up. When I was a little girl, I would get all worked up thinking about the fact that my parents would die some day – but every day that I age – that “some day” gets closer and closer, and it’s sometimes hard to fathom.
I am 37. Thirty-seven. I’ve had a breast cancer scare, a bone tumor removed from my rib (found to be benign after removal), and a scary uterine situation all in my 30’s. None of these events have been brushes with death by any means, but they’ve been scary for us. They’ve made me think about my own mortality. My mother has MS and isn’t doing well – she gets worse every month. Watching her lose more and more mobility as she ages is hard on my heart and mind – and impossible on her body. We have countless occurrences of cancer in my family (both sides) that for some reason, have never killed anyone. But one day – someone in our family will die of cancer. That one day is getting closer – it’s just inevitable. All of these types of things make me feel mortal – they remove that invincible feeling I had in my 20’s.
Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce in this country. That’s a big number. B and I were talking about this several months ago when one of our “couple friends” started having serious marital problems. Statistically, 50% of our “couple friends” will get divorced, and as we’re ending our 30’s and entering our 40’s (well, I am – B is still a spring chicken), we are very aware of the fact that some of our friends will get divorced. That’s amazing to us. We grew up in an in-tact families, so the thought of divorce really is abstract for both of us. We never experienced it growing up and can’t imagine what it’s like to end a marriage. When/if this happens for the first time to one of our “couple friends,” I think we’ll be a little shell-shocked by it. Statistically, this is going to happen to at least one of our “couple friends,” and probably sooner than we think. And it could happen to us.
A dear friend of ours was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 30. This friend’s story is not mine to tell, but I will say that it shook us both to our cores. At least, we thought it did at the time. When the cancer was clear, we sighed a big sigh of relief, celebrated and moved on. The cancer came back this past summer with difficult circumstances surrounding it. Things are looking positive for this friend, but we struggle daily with the situation. What we thought was so hard to even think about two/three years ago doesn’t hold a candle to what we struggle with today. We think and talk daily about how our friend is coping, what our friend may be thinking, what our friend’s spouse is feeling and thinking, and the fear that everyone surrounding them is living with on a daily basis.
Being an adult is hard – and sometimes it feels impossible.
With all of the challenges we’re seeing surrounding us, and realizing that things are, in fact, falling apart for many of those in our lives, B and I talk a lot about us. We talk about how to take care of us, our family, each other. We talk about how we would handle the challenges that our friends and family members are facing. We have some hard conversations, we talk about divorce, we talk about infidelity. By observing others and talking together about their situations, we ponder out loud how we would handle certain situations, what we need to do to ensure we’re protected from those situations as best as we can be, and what we can start doing today to keep working on us, our health, and our family.
One of my parents will die before the other one – that is a fact. The same is true for B’s parents. One thing that we are very insistent on is knowing how to help the surviving parent when this happens. In my parents’ situation, I have asked my dad who to contact about his will, his life insurance, his social security, their health insurance, etc. in case he dies first. I know the first phone call I am to make if/when he dies before my mom. If my mom dies first, there is no phone call to make – I just need to drive my ass home to my dad. We need to have this conversation with B’s parents, but it’s hard because his family doesn’t talk about death at all. My family talks about it too much.
In regards to our health, we take everything seriously enough to have it checked out. There is enough cancer of all types in my family to question every mole, every bump, etc. We are not too young to come down with a fatal disease – we’ve learned that the hard way (and really, it hasn’t been as hard as it could be given that it hasn’t happened directly to us, but you know what I mean). In the past, B would tell me to get this or that checked out, and I’d blow him off. Now, I make doctor appointments. We don’t overreact at all, but we do react. We are in our 30’s, after all.
In regards to marriage… oh boy. B and I have both made some big relationship mistakes in the past with other people – the types of mistakes that hurt other people a great deal. I used to wake up every day and think about the people I hurt, but I don’t anymore. I’ve let the guilt lift over time – and part of the reason I’ve let it lift is that I learned so much from it. I take what I learned from my mistakes and try to keep my marriage strong because of it. B and I talk about our prior relationship mistakes very openly and talk about how we will keep from hurting each other, even if times get difficult. I usually sum up these conversations by referencing “our little foxhole.”
From In Good Company
Carter Duryea: Dan, you seem to have the perfect marriage. How do you do it?
Dan Foreman: You just pick the right one to be in the foxhole with, and then when you’re outside of the foxhole you keep your dick in your pants.
Carter Duryea: That’s poetic.
I love our little foxhole, the people who surround our foxhole, and especially the two littles who live in the foxhole with us. As time marches on and we get inevitably closer and closer to having bad things happen, I want to be prepared. I want everyone in our foxhole to be strong and to feel confident that we can overcome anything that is thrown our way. I want us to keep talking, to keep reviewing the happenings around us, and to keep taking care of ourselves and each other. Bad things are going to happen, but with a little preparation and a lot of talking, we can overcome them as they occur. At least, I think we can.