I spent the last minutes of 1999 noshing on Ritz crackers alone in my bedroom, pretending to be Rose DeWitt Bukater (the gal from Titanic who bedrocked Leo’s heart like an iceberg and yes, I know you always wondered how her last name was really spelled).
I was in the fifth grade. And I was a J.D. Salinger loner type with too serious of an infatuation with Y2K. These days, I still cannot resolve why mother let me spend my savings on a Y2K sailor hat and snow globe or why she let me loose in the flour to bake a Y2K cake for all my classmates. Yea, I was that girl walking into class saying, “Hey friends, Happy ‘we’re all going to die in the next 48 hours when the computers crash at the strike of 2000’!” Y’all can refer to me as “buzzkill” from now on.
But, in all seriousness, I honestly believed that the world would thrash and fall apart and I’d find myself standing at the foot of the Grand Staircase with Leo looking down at me from the clock, saying, “Darling, you look grand in that Y2K sailor hat. Let’s run to the front of the boat so I can wrap my hands around your waist and make you feel like you are flying.”
Something like that.
Either way, I thought the world was ending and I was perfectly content with falling to particles alone. In my bedroom. Sipping orange juice out of a champagne flute. With crumbs from the Ritz crackers scattered in my lap like sequins adorning my Titanical ball gown.
I think about the Titanic just as much as I think about “What would it be like to be a teen mother?” So trust me, that means the topic is on my brain. A LOT. I’m even so awesome that I went out to the store, bought a bottle of wine, and watched a minute-by-minute Twitter reenactment of the Titanic sinking this year on the anniversary. Yea, you’re bummed you missed it, I know.
I sat there with palms sweating, thinking, “It will be over soon. It will be over soon. They haven’t put me in a lifeboat yet. I guess this is it. The lifeboats are sparse. I think it shall be over soon.” And went to bed somber that night, and a little broken.
Call it what you will but don’t you ever wonder what it must have been like?
To be the one watching your children scamper on the deck after dinner before you heard a thud. A shrill crack.
Panic. There’s panic all around you. You take their tiny hands and you move towards the throng of people hushing one another. It takes a few hours before you know it to be true: the ship will go down. There won’t be enough lifeboats for everyone.
How, oh, how do I fit the rest of my life into 2 or 3 hours? Can I love you any harder, children? Can I hold you any closer? Can I say things that will quiet your fears and make it not so painful when the ice-cold water reaches your ankles? Oh, the pain. Can I take it from you? Can I close your eyes to all of this and read you bedtime stories and promise you heaven?
Did I show you God enough for you to believe in Him? Because all the talking in the universe would not matter if I did not love you right enough for you to think there was a God who cared about your limbs and that time you fell from the old oak tree. Did I show you God?
Did I do enough? Did I do that stuff that actually mattered?
Lately I wonder what it might look like if someone were to tell me that this—this whole wake up in the morning, put two feet on the ground, get through the day, be kind to people, be successful until you close your eyes at night thing—was ending today… tomorrow… next week… would I have done it right?
I promise to be the last person to come at you with a “live like you are dying” speech but the truth of it all is that we really don’t know when these toes will go. When these eyes will close. When these fingers will stop feeling new countertops and the tops of heads that give us a reason to shuffle home at night.
I’ve got a good few folks that I’d love nothing more than to get back. I’d hurl myself over mountains and through deserts and across oceans to get these people back in my orbit. To sit down beside him and say, “You know, you shouldn’t have gone away for so long. We’ve missed you so and, truthfully, the world falls apart without your laughter in it.”
And I know you’ve got them too. The ones who made strudel from nada. The Ones Who Counted Stars with You for the Very First Time.
It’s a different age. An entirely different age. And now we are flushed full with 140-character cries and a status update every 5 seconds but Would It Matter? If it were all ending, would we update those who never really cared or would we find a way to reach back to the ones who deserved our every update in person? Deserved the moments that should have always stayed tucked between Intimate People instead of blasted out to a world that lives for its own reflection.
I want to know that you would throw it aside too. That we both would. And we’d come back to one another like two just meeting from across a crowded room. That everything we said we cared about Oh-So-Much is pale, pale, pale when placed beside human hearts.
And some days I want an excuse to throw all character limitations aside and just clutch you closer than we’ve ever tried before.
This Big Ol’ Boat is Sinking Fashion.
& I’m Gonna See You Soon.
& I Miss You Like Heck Already.
& Be Good Until We Meet Again.
& I’m Sorry, I Should Have Said This Sooner, But You Made All of This Worth It.
& Just Hold Me Now and Make Me Feel Like I Did You Right.