Last night, in a way that seemed out of the blue (which, knowing him, means he’s been thinking about it) my husband asked me a sobering question:
“What would you do if I were to die tomorrow?”
First of all, were we celebrating his birthday. I was all dressed up, I’d cooked one of his favorite meals, music was playing, we still had drinks in our hands. And, then–bam–that question.
I waved my drink, and made a flip reply about pool boys. He smiled briefly, and said, “We don’t have a pool.” When I said “I’ll build one,” he got very serious and asked, “Could you afford one? Do you even have an inkling of an idea of what your net worth would be and how you would handle your finances should something unexpected happen to me?”
And the truth is, I have only once or twice, in the most fleeting, general way, thought about that. So, at that moment, I didn’t have a real answer. When he saw me stumbling, he tried to jumpstart my answers: Did I know what I would/should do to manage our assets? Most likely it wouldn’t be fiscally wise to maintain two households, so where would I live the rest of my life, and what would I do with the money from the sale of one or the other? And also, did I know what I would want to put in my own will?
When he saw my dismay–that I had no answers–he shook his head. “This is worse than I thought.”
The truth is, before T met Hubs, I was managing my finances and that of my young son’s just fine. I was by no means wealthy, but I wasn’t in debt, and I had what seemed to me some decent savings. But that’s as far as it went. I didn’t have a future plan, other than, “I hope I get to write books some day, because that’s what I really want to do. Maybe it can happen when I retire.”
Hubs came along, and with his blessing, I retired about 10 years earlier than I had anticipated, and did just that–started writing, fulltime. During the course of our marriage, once or twice, when we were having a down period, I wondered if that was the wisest choice, fiscally speaking. Most writers, even those like I with a modicum of success, cannot live on their book sales. Most have other jobs along with the writing. So, as time went on, I admit I did have the uneasy thought that if we were ever to split up, would I be able to get back into the workforce? Would I be a desirable hire? What would I do, if so? Would I go back to teaching?
And then he and I passed that hump–a moment in our relationship when the worrying things became endearing, and we approached each other’s foibles with trust, friendship, and respect. Once I knew we were in this for life, and looking forward to that life, I stopped worrying that we wouldn’t be together by mutual choice.
But not once had I thought about what would happen, what I would do, if he were taken from me by chance. And it occurred to me that I have friends, relatives, and acquaintances who are all over the board with this–some who have planned to their last moment and know what their assets are down to the penny–and others who’ll be eking out an an old age on social security and family benevolence.
The rest of this week is for rest and relaxation, for celebrating a birthday, an upcoming wedding, and the fact that we accomplished something amazing together with a whole bunch of people we care about and who care about us (including those of you who contributed)–we made a movie out of a screenplay I wrote. And this is my first vacation in more than three years, so I should enjoy it. I should give my body, spirit, and mind time to refresh and reset.
Instead, this morning, I find myself thinking about the inevitable.
Last night, just before we went to sleep, I said to him, “You told me you were going to live to be a hundred.”
“I’ll try my best.”
“So, if you live to be a hundred, that means I get to die before you do, and I won’t have to live without you. We don’t live into our nineties in my family.”
“The statistics show that I will die before you do, more than likely.”
“I don’t want that to happen. I would miss you more than you would miss me if I die first. We’re different that way.”
“You don’t know that for sure, anymore than we know when and how we’ll die.”
“It would be so nice if we could die at the same time.”
“A murder-suicide pact? A meteor hitting the earth?”
“I don’t know. Do we have to think about this?”
“Not right now, we don’t. But next week, we’re going over all of it. Together. We have to.”
He’s right. I know he’s right.