Saturday, December 5, 2015

Whose Finger Do You Want On The Trigger?

I know, I know. You are far too young to be worried about this end of life stuff "death people" have been blathering on about. Sure, any of us could get hit by a bus–but then who cares about an advance directive, right? You're part of the asphalt now, pal, it's a done deal.

Many people over 30 aren't stoked on being reminded that they are officially adults. They have climbed to the top of the mountain and it's all downhill from here, and that's just too depressing to think about. 40-year-olds? Don't you even start to EVEN talk about "retirement" and "menopause" and "getting affairs in order". That's for old people. That's for lawyers. You have a hot yoga class to attend, and a marathon to train for.

You're not going anywhere...except you don't know that for sure, do you?

There's a lot of reasons why you're totally wrong, but right now we're going to focus on one, really important reason that you probably haven't thought of, or we wouldn't be having this little talk. Plenty of us are going to die young and stay pretty, regardless of how we live, or what we do. Here's what you need to ask yourself when you are dragging ass and making excuses to avoid this very simple adulting task.

Whose finger to you want on the trigger if you're wrong? 

Think about that. Life is messy sometimes. Families dysfunction, religion can divide, parents can be estranged, marriages fail..or, explode into bitter fiascos driven by a caustic hostility typically reserved for your first childhood bully, or the relentless meter readers of San Francisco. (I HATE THEM SO MUCH)

Times a million.

If your shit isn't dialed and something happens? Someone that you really don't trust could be sitting in the driver's seat, making decisions about your life. Not what you do or where you go, your actual quality of, or continuing of, your LIFE. 

Getting hit by a bus isn't always fatal, and sometimes things you couldn't conceive of happening happen to perfectly healthy, young, vivacious, charming, good-looking people, like getting sick. 

Like me!
I had never felt motivated or overly compelled to get anything down on paper about my death wishes. Even though I'd seen with my own eyes what happens when you don't, even though I had a child, even though I had very specific instructions regarding my grandiose burial wishes. I'd get around to it, I don't need that now...I don't even know exactly what I want yet! 

I will tell you this. The very moment I hung up the phone after being told that my biopsy showed invasive carcinoma at 38, the world zoomed into focus, my doubts and fears shut down, and robot-me started systematically identifying vulnerabilities and fortifying defenses. Even if cancer didn't kill me, I would be helpless for at least a little while. My finances, my children (including the one still occupying my body) and my critical decisions that I may have trouble making will all be in the hands of...

*robot-me scans for next of kin*

Oh for fucksake, no no no no! *scans again* 

Yep. My estranged husband. 

My very angry, vengeful, opportunistic estranged husband. 

Not my parents, not my extremely capable and trusted siblings, not my solid rock of reliability that was my best friend, not my kind, loving partner and father of my (suddenly more fragile) unborn son. 

A short film rolled behind my eyes. I'm in a hospital bed, unresponsive. Something went wrong during surgery, and while I was aware of my surroundings, I couldn't speak or move. My loved ones are staring into the room through a closed door, forbidden to enter. My talented actor of a husband lovingly caressing my hand as he tells the doctors that I would want to be kept alive by any means necessary. He wipes a tear away and as the doctor leaves the room, his features harden and he stares at me, willing me to be in there, knowing. Then he leaves with no intention of ever coming back, and I am left alone in a silent prison.

I know that's a little dark, but totally could happen. I'm sure it HAS happened. Otherwise, where did all of those soap operas get the idea from?
You know who isn't fucking around? This guy.
That my friends, is what motivation smells like–fear. What will motivate you? Will you have time, like I did, to batten down the hatches? Or will that careless bus driver punt you right into the hands of a narcissistic mother, a father you never really knew, or a flakey sibling who can't even decide on a breakfast cereal?

Mere hours after getting my diagnosis, I was filling out my advance directive, and while it added undeniable weight to the moment, it felt more safe than final. If anything happened, those I trusted the most would be on point and in place.  There was less mystery, and a huge "unknown" removed from the equation. It didn't really add to the feeling of death breath on my neck, but it did help me process the practical information that yes, I actually could absolutely die. Possibly in the fairly near future. 

Luckily I didn't, and probably won't for a long time. Knowing that the advance directive is there still makes me feel protected, and gives me a sense of being prepared. One big life chore checked off of the list. It's alleviated fear and has given me back some control of what will happen to me should I ever find myself vulnerable like that again.

Fucking around time is over. It's business time. Don't know where to start? Don't worry, we got you, bro.

You can start RIGHT NOW

Posy-Filled Pockets will be holding workshops throughout the year that will provide a group setting where you can ask questions, discuss options, and fill out your paperwork with support and guidance. They will be announced on our Happenings page here on the blog, and on our facebook page. 

Watch the blog for information on the different advance directive options, degrees of detail different versions address, and more personal horror stories to emotionally strong-arm you into action.  

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