Does anyone remember the scene in the second or third Star Trek movie — I forget which — when Dr. McCoy asks Jim Kirk how he’s feeling, Kirk answers, with a sense of wonder: “Young. I feel young.”
I feel old. More than that, I find, to my bemusement, that I am old. I am an old lady. I’m not sure how this happened, but this afternoon, I was bringing in a load of laundry from my clothesline, struggling up the back steps, all three of them, and wrestling with the laundry basket to get the back door open, and I realized what I probably looked like to the commuter traffic that was, at the time, streaming past my front door. If they even looked at all, that’s what they saw: a fat old lady wrestling with laundry. Sheesh.
And I hate leaving home, these days. Tomorrow we’re off to visit our son for his birthday, and I mean, come on, it’s not clear the other side of the world. We’re driving 400 or 500 miles to Pennsylvania, probably down through Massachusetts and Connecticut, into New York State, and across the Hudson River, maybe touching a bit on New Jersey before hitting Pennsylvania. And all I can think is two things: (1) Massachusetts has the worst drivers in the entire U.S. It’s a fact, it’s been proven by some insurance institute or other. And (2), HOW HIGH IS THAT D*** BRIDGE OVER THE HUDSON GOING TO BE?!?!?!?!?! I am terrified of heights, always have been. Give me childbirth any day. Yet I know he can’t come home — it’s the busy season for the railroad that employs him — and this is his first birthday away from home. And — well, I promised I wouldn’t say anything more about That Other Thing. (See back a few posts.)
Okay, so where’s all that Trust In God I’m always telling my kids they should have? Why can’t I just say, “OK, Lord, this trip is in Your hands, I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the scenery”?
Because I have 60 years’ worth of Other People’s Catastrophes rattling around in my brain. The time that a chunk of I-95 came crashing down, and all those cars hurtled into space. The 1989 San Francisco earthquake. TWA Flight 800, a whole lot of schoolchildren on their way to France for their senior trip having no idea that 11 minutes later, they’d be in pieces, floating in the Atlantic Ocean. A cloudless September day, a secretary sitting at her desk with her morning coffee, booting up her computer and looking up to see what that godawful noise was, only to find a jet-engine propeller boring down on her. 9/11.
Ironically, it’s not even that I mind the end of life, since I know it won’t be an end, but a beginning (I just hope it’s a good beginning…). I just don’t want to die in terror. I want my last few minutes on earth to be “painless, blameless, without shame or suffering,” and I want my last thoughts to be, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me,” not, “I can’t believe this is happening” — assuming I’m even capable of thought. What do you think about when you find yourself hurtling into nothingness??
It’s so old, not wanting to travel and see new places. Old people like to sit at home. Young people like to Go.
Pray for us on this trip.