I am big on being prepared. Even if the preparation consists of nothing more than periodic dress rehearsals in my daydreams.
It’s weird to daydream about disaster and tragedy, but I was the little girl whose Barbies’ were all widowed women. And I was the teen who stared out the window of Sister Jean Freund’s South American history class and fantasized Red Dawn scenario’s. The readiness is all, as Hamlet would say once he quit whining.
During last summer’s mini-health alert, Rob put a file together for me containing all the “just in case” information. It was overkill. But it helped knowing that neither of us would be forced to wade through boxes in search of policy numbers and phone contacts. Sometimes having the details worked through in advance makes it easier to face the unthinkable.
But when he had his heart-attack, I realized that I had no idea where the file had gotten to. In our perpetual state of renovation, the minutia of life shifts from room to room, depending on where the hot reno action is taking place.
Rob took the office apart right after Christmas and the contents of the room were scattered in totes, boxes and file cabinets between the living and dining rooms. The file vanished into the triangle.
We’ve been putting the office back together these last few days, and Rob decided we needed an I.C.E. binder.
In case of emergency – crack open.
There are two of them and they have a prominent place in the organizing cabinet. Everything pertinent to life after one of our death’s is there.
“You’ll need it, ” he said, “as it’s clear now that you will outlive me.”
I scoffed and reminded him that I could be wiped out in an instant on the road from town or at the intersection. And for all we actually know, my heart could be riddled with disease just waiting to surprise us.
But I am always cognizant of the promise I made before we married, that I would let him go first. Even though it’s not my call, I did offer and the universe has a way of taking one at one’s word in these matters.
At any rate, Rob was quite sober yesterday as we discussed the I.C.E. book. He’s chafed a bit this last week. He is still on driving restriction, forbidden to engage in work even via email and bored out of his mind.
He doesn’t look sick at all. I had another husband who didn’t look sick to the naked eye either once.
On his walk yesterday though, he overdid it. Went too far and then had to get himself back because he forgot to take his cell phone.
At about an hour and a half, I began to toy with the idea of hopping in the truck to go look for him. He was surprised to see I hadn’t when he finally got home – which is telling.
“I thought about Shelley, ” he said. “She used to walk that same loop with edema and a compression bandage on her leg and cancer spreading everywhere. If she could finish it, so could I.”
He is stubborn like that, but this morning he is still in bed at 10 AM.
In case of emergency, you break glass or open a binder. I am not there and I may never be. But I could be. So we organize, just in case.