The door to my front loading washing machine wouldn’t open. There was wet washing in there but the door just wouldn’t budge. I shrugged and boiled the kettle instead. I don’t like hanging washing anyway.
I tried it later in the day. Still stuck. The wet uniforms trapped inside were going to get stinky.
I text Leigh: Hey babe. I can’t get the washing machine door open.
He text back that he would look at it when he got home.
There’s a bunch of stuff I just don’t even try to do. For example, I don’t replace batteries in toys- I’m excellent at rounding off the little star in the screws so the screwdriver no longer grips. If the kids want batteries replaced, they know to go to Dad.
Leigh is the go-to parent for a lot of things, and I would argue that he is the one who truly holds the family together; the steady, patient, non-anxious presence. And the one who earns the money.
I’m not sure if it’s normal, but I often find myself wondering what I will do if he dies? I think about it a lot. I wonder whether would I have to sell the house, and would I go back to teaching? What would I do with all the stuff in his man cave and would my big sister come home and sleep in my bed with me? How I would get the washing machine open and who will replace batteries?
I asked my sisters if they do that too- let their mind wander all over the landscape of tragedy and grief. It turns out we all have an alternate reality planned out in case the worst happens. One of my sisters plans to move in with Jason Bourne if her beloved passes away. (My sister Jenn points out that I probably shouldn’t assume something is normal just because all four Hammond sisters do it. We think we all might be slightly koo-koo cachoo.)
There’s an old hymn that goes,
When peace like a river attended my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot
You have taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul
American lawyer Horatio Spafford, who penned this hymn in 1873 lost his two-year-old son, and then all his personal wealth in the Great Chicago Fires. Two years later, he sent his wife and four daughters on a ship to Europe but the ship hit another and sank rapidly, and all four daughters were drowned. His wife Anna survived and telegrammed him from Europe, “saved alone…”. Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.
When I sing this song in church, I always get a bit choked up. I wonder if I would be like Horatio; still praising God despite tragedy. Or would I be shaking my fists at the sky and cursing God. Would I ever speak to Him again?
My friend lost her son in a car accident. She said sometimes in her grief she would stand out in the paddock on her farm and cry out to God. But she said, “Yvette, the clouds were as concrete, and my prayers would just echo back down.”
She is a wonderfully faithful woman and I know she can sing, “it is well with my soul”, even though there was a time that she felt that God did not hear her at all.
I hear her story, and the story of others who have lost someone they dearly love and need and I realise that it could happen to any of us. Life is fragile and unpredictable and there are no promises that we will get to do all of it alongside the ones we love most.
But I think about that maybe a little too often.
Do you ever worry about your loved ones dying? And is letting such thoughts play out healthy or not?