In the last trimesters of my two pregnancies my mind and body went into high states of anticipation. Physically I was full of child, round and healthy, a walking, talking, glowing clichè. Who cared that we were young and totally unprepared? My body was saying, “Let’s do this!”
Mentally I went into the hormone zone. At night I dreamt of having twins or triplets, and literally juggling them (even though I can barely handle more than one bag in real life without dropping it) or forgetting they existed at all until learning they were grown without having ever known me. Gotta love those pregnancy hormones.
Recently I began noticing a parallel between my late term pregnancy time and my current existence. You see every night before I closed my eyes to sleep back then I’d think, “What if this is the night I go into labor?”
Now, as I near sixty, I sometimes wonder at bedtime, “What if this is the night I die?” It’s not as morbid as it sounds. I’m a healthy woman. I sleep well and eat a reasonably nutritious diet. After my bout with early stage breast cancer I am religious about having regular mammograms and other preventative medical exams.
But it’s as if I’ve become pregnant with death.
I’m past those years of thinking I am invincible. I’ve lost friends who seemed full of life and possibility. I was with both of my parents as they died, and I was struck by just how effortless the final step was. They’d both suffered the indignities of long, painful illnesses, but when death finally came for them there was a release and a relief.
So sometimes at night the anticipatory thought comes to me. “What if this is it? What if this is the night I die?”
I say my prayers as always, for forgiveness, for the health and well-being of my family, for an end to wars, for any friends who’ve requested prayers, and I always end with a thank you. Because if I’m to go I want gratitude to be my final thought.
In the end I guess we are all “pregnant with death” and life is too precious to spend even a moment on dramas that separate families and friends. So forgive. And then forgive again.
If I leave tonight
my spirit will stay with you
I’ll love you always.