She said, “If I die, you don’t have to come back for the funeral.”
I looked at her, surprised, and then quickly back to the 401. We were driving west, somewhere in Ontario.
“I know people might expect you to, and it might mean you’ll grieve differently, but I don’t need you to come back,” she continued.
My mom was a couple weeks shy of her 70th birthday. She’s already survived two types of breast cancer and two types of skin cancer so sometimes I like to think that maybe she’s some kind of invincible super woman but, the reality is, she may not live through the 8-10 years we plan to be on the other side of the world.
Jesus said, “Let the dead bury their own dead,” and “anyone who loves their mother or father more than me is not worthy of me.” But, man, when the reality sets in, that’s a hard pill to swallow.
“It won’t matter to me; I’ll be dead,” she points out. (I have always been grateful for the candor in my family). I think about it and I tell her that no, it might not matter to her, but it might to me.
We drive in silence for a couple of minutes as tears well up in our eyes before pulling off to a rest stop.
I park the car, turn to her, and thank her for bringing it up; I’m glad we were able to talk about it, however brief the conversation was. We get out of the car, hold each other tightly, wipe our tears, take a deep breath, and then continue on.
Because what else can we do, other than keep moving forward?