If you might die next week (and you might), read this.

Dying is for other people, right? I used to think of getting pregnant as a thing that only happened to other people too, until it happened to me. Now that I’ve had a flash with death (okay, what I thought might have been death as I struggled to remain conscious in my home yesterday before being carted off to the ER. Diagnosis: vertigo and dehydration. I feel like a Lohan.) I can tell you, dying will happen to us. Let’s be prepared.

My worst fear is collapsing into unconsciousness when I’m alone caring for my kids. I’m not sure how I got that fear. Maybe someone told me a story once where her friend passed out from some weird brain fart and her toddler walked aimlessly around shoving small objects into his mouth. Or maybe I’m just a control freak who quakes at the idea of my kids running free in this boobytrapped environment (many pillows to stuff in one another’s faces, curved surfaces on which to impale awkwardly, maybe) I’m not afraid of death per se, just of it happening while I’m on the clock with my kids. Which is why I had an internal meltdown and a spectrum of thoughts as I faded.

In those fuzzy, tingly moments where I felt my limbs go weak and the world go black, I had a few insights. Ready? Here is a guide for shit you need to do if you think there’s a chance you might die next week.

1. Clean your home. You’d think in the moments I was fighting off “death” that I’d think of my loved ones or relive poignant moments or something but no, I reached to pick up a sock. I was afraid the EMTs would judge my messy house and tell my children their mother was a slob. Your home doesn’t have to be spotless, just not embarrassing. You never know when you will drop dead from a mysterious pass-out illness and everyone will see your couch cushions strewn around from that fort the kids built two days ago.

2. Purge anything embarrassing in your closet. While I was reaching for the sock I was thinking about my college diary hidden in my shoes. Oh, I loved. And I lost. And I loved and lost and smoked a bunch of green stuff and once I saw a live sex show in Amsterdam. It was a real thrill at the time but you know what? Kids going through old boxes of mom’s stuff do not want to hear about those guys who weren’t dad. They’ll have their own pot to smoke and only want to know about how virginal you were before you met their dashing gentleman of a father and commenced a courtship centered upon planning their births. So be sure to throw out anything embarrassing you have hidden around the house. That also includes your stash of Boy Meets World dvds and period panties. Live as though there might be a party in your house in oh, five minutes.

3. Do what you mean to do. The only record the world has of me is this stupid blog I write and a handful of meaningless Facebook updates*. To know me from what I left behind is to see a woman who cares about liposuction. But is that what I really intend to say? What about my theory about aliens just being humans from the future? (They are green! Exhibit A. They have big heads! Exhibit B). What about my belief that although we are talking monkeys, that just means that monkeys are people too? What about the fact that I truly value life and think it is a precious, fleeting thing of complex beauty? That doesn’t have any political implication, I just appreciate the moments I have and the experience of being with those I love. DEEP THOUGHTS. Blog it out before you kick the can. Better yet, write some love letters in pen.

4. When Nora Ephron passed earlier in the week, she left a great tidbit about eating one’s last meal. Whatever it is, eat it now, she said. Because when your real last meal comes around you’ll either be too sick to eat it or have no idea what’s coming. If my strange bout with vertigo and dehydration yesterday had been, say, an aneurysm as I feared, my last meal would have been a hunk of bread and a glass of water. Prison food. Make your plans, people. You never know what will be your last of anything so get cracking on the things you want to have done.

5. Get life insurance. As I struggled to focus my eyes in the ER I thought, “well, if I collapse now, it’s all good because they’ll either do the best they can and save me or my family will get a cool quarter mil to hire a hot Polish nanny/housekeeper/chauffeur whom my husband will eventually marry. Either way, everyone’s good!” Well, except me, I guess. $300 a year bought me that kind of peace. Get a policy.

6. Take your vitamins, get plenty of exercise, drink lots of fluids in 100 degree heat and do everything in your power to stay as healthy and strong for as long as possible so your slothfulness about writing a book or climbing everest won’t prevent you from eventually doing those things. Because right after you read this post you’re going to waste an hour on Facebook. I know you.

*Plus two kids, a home, a husband and the good fight so maybe I ain’t too much of a waste. I said maybe.

Filed under: Field Trips, How-To, Preach


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  • I totally agree about the life insurance. It also works when you are worried about your spouse. Once my husband and his best friend went on a road trip to Chicago of all places (a 12 hour drive from here, and they left after they got off work and drove all night) and I was worried sick. But knowing we had life insurance made me feel a little less worried. Obviously I want him here, not the money, but knowing we would be financially ok should something happen really helps.
    I once had an "occular migraine" which doesn't hurt at all, just really blurs your vision (it was like looking through a kalidascope for 20 miunutes) and I was convinced I was having a stroke, I felt pretty dumb after that whole ordeal, haha.

  • In reply to Erin:

    I don't get why people kill each other for their life insurance policies. If my husband dies, I get enough money to stay in the house and send the girls to school. If he lives, I get all that anyway AND someone to rub my feet while I watch the Daily Show.

  • Because people are crazy, I think. And what about your children losing their other parent? It doesn't make sense.

  • Well and memorably said, Jenna!

  • Too funny! Also, be mindful of what you're wearing around the house. I would hate for the paramedics to find me in my raggedy cotton pajamas with the chocolate stains on the front.

  • In reply to amyd:

    Oh I never sleep naked for this reason! If there was a fire, I'd grab my kids and escape and waltz down Clark street without getting arrested.


  • Well said. #5 is underrated by too many adults.

  • In reply to Andy Frye:

    When Bee was five weeks old, Niko broke his ankle playing hockey and then developed a deep blood clot from the surgery. I was like, "hmmm, baby + no job + possibly no husband = ???" and boom, policy.

  • Love this, especially #1. Yes, clean it, and teach your layabout family to do the same. They'll need to know how to carry on regardless. This is the one I'm concentrating on these days!

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