I think that when you become a parent you discover an entire new set of fears. It can include, but is not limited to: germs, food additives, antibiotics, vaccines…<insert fear-of-the-month here>. My husband and I, well, we are afraid of dying. Not the fear of slowly wasting away in a nursing home, but of dying young, soon, perhaps tomorrow. Alex’s mother died without warning when he was seven years old and my father died when I was four. This shared experience bonded us together from the night we met.
I often wonder how this will affect the way we raise our son. I suppose it will take time to see how our neuroses manifest themselves. I can recognize two ways so far.
The first way is none too detrimental, I think. It’s just that I take pictures. Hundreds of them. I update my Picasa albums and YouTube channel obsessively, and I pounce on every online deal for canvas prints, photography sessions, and photo albums. I have spent countless hours working on these photo albums. At first my husband couldn’t understand why they were so important to me. I asked him if he wouldn’t pay any amount of money to have something like this of his mother. If something should happen to either of us, Aiven could put a story together from the pictures, videos, albums, and blog postings. Alex and I would do anything to have the story of our deceased parents, so now I find myself documenting everything about our own lives.
The second way our fear of death manifests itself is that Alex and I try to live for today more than worrying about the future. Thus, we take more risks than our peers and more than our families are comfortable with. We strive to keep our eyes open to the extraordinary moments, opportunities, and memories unfolding before us.
Alex and I decided a few months ago to leave New York City. We love it here but it is too expensive; we did not want to both work crazy hours just to pay the rent and childcare. At the moment, we are both unemployed, lacking health insurance (COBRA wanted $2500 a month–hiss!), and packing up our things to go into storage. Most people would be scrambling to find jobs. Instead, we are about to embark on a journey for 82 days to Ireland, Scotland, England, France, and Spain. We figured that before we reboot the daily grind, we should take an extended vacation. Unplug. See the stars. Most importantly, bond with Aiven, as a couple, and as a family.
After this adventure we are relocating to Austin, Texas. My husband may have a job when he arrives there, or he may not. We don’t even have a place to live. To top it all off, I cashed in my 401K. It wasn’t a significant sum, but it will pay for the summer. I could have waited until I was 65 to use it, but who says I am going to be around then? I would rather spend the money now. The most important consideration for us was that we may not have this opportunity again for many, many years…if ever.
Some might accuse us of being irresponsible, unstable, or gambling with our child’s future. We call it not living with regrets. I just hope that we do not live to regret it.