I was almost in a terrible bus accident on Monday.
Some city bus tried to get ahead of my bus on the interstate. It slammed into our side mirror and made the bus careen off the road as it tilted dangerously to the side.
It was quite dramatic. The entire bus screamed. I’ve noticed that when I have something scary happen while I am driving by myself in my car, I don’t scream. I get very quiet and focused. But when something scary happens on a bus, you scream. In a crowd, people are more apt to scream—a theatre, a roller coaster, a crashing bus—it makes it more of a shared experience, I guess.
The one upside of a deadly bus crash is that you wouldn’t die alone After this near fatal incident, my Bus Crush (see previous blog BIRDS OF A FEATHER where my Bus Crush is introduced) looked at me in shock and said. “Keith, we almost died!” I told him we would have to promise to save each other if there was ever a real fiery crash and he said “Keith, I’ve got your back.” My Bus Crush seems to start every sentence addressed to me with “Keith…” Maybe it’s a trick he learned about how to remember names. Maybe he likes saying my name. I probably think about it too much. If he knew how much I thought about it, he would probably say “Keith, stop thinking about it so much.”
Anyway, I’m glad he vowed to rescue me. He seems like a man of his word and since I’m older with a bum shoulder, I most likely will need help escaping from a fiery crash.
After texting Saul that I almost died in a crash just to remind him not to take me for granted I told him we need to get our will and other such things in order. Now that we are married and on the cusp of buying a house, things will get complicated when one of us dies. I would like to hope it’s me who dies first because I hate dealing with things like wills and stuff but it’s so hard to predict those kinds of things.
A good friend of ours named Amy Pickard started a business called Good to Go which goes over every single thing you may want or need dealt with when you die. And she makes it fun and pleasant. She doesn’t just deal with wills and who gets your crow statue collection (I want them donated to a school named in my honor—Keith Hoffman High) but also what songs you want at your memorial and who is in charge of throwing away that secret box in the back of your closet full of things you wouldn’t want your parents or children to see. We have scheduled a skype appointment with her this coming Friday and I will tell you more about it then. I will give her a shameless plug tough because she is a really cool chick doing a really cool thing.
It’s not the most fun thing to think about losing your loved one or them losing you. I’m sure if I go first, I will worry mightily about Saul and be very distracted with my heavenly duties while watching over him making sure he eats well, exercises, doesn’t isolate, or eat too much sugar. I will have to send him a lot of signs to remind him of these things. Basically, I will haunt him.
One of the toughest thing about having pets like cats and dogs is that there is a very good likelihood you will see them through the end of their lives. They are luckier than most other animals. I produced a series called Last Alaskans that took place in the remotest part of that state and one of the men who lived there said animals don’t die easy deaths in the wild. They don’t just quietly die of old age. I had never thought of that. I’m pretty sure wild animals don’t have memorials or look for signs of their dearly departed squirrel Aunt Sassy after she was run over by a speeding Toyota. I assume animals live in the moment. Our cats freak out when we toss them outside the bedroom in the middle of the night after they’ve decided to start obsessively licking our faces with their devilish sandpaper tongues. They are distraught and depressed until the minute I open the door in the morning. Then their world is back to normal.
I, on the other hand, would think about being shut out all night for the rest of the day or week or maybe year. And I would worry about the next time I may be locked out again. The cats don’t. They move on from the ordeal and then lick our faces at 3AM the next night all over again.
It’s hard to live each day as if it were your last but ride taking a dangerous bus four hours every day helps.
How would I live today if it were my last?
- I would tell Saul I loved him.
- I would tell him not to isolate, believe in his art, eat right and stay out of trouble or I will send him signs from beyond that are painful
- I would regret I couldn’t eat one more Skyline chili dog in Cincinnati
- I would text my dearest friends and say, ‘I’m dying today and I love you but don’t have time to talk”
- I would try to write one last blog. I feel like it could be pretty deep, profound yet funny.
- I would tell my bus crush I regret not seeing where this might have gone.
- I would listen to Storms by Stevie Nicks
- I would pet the cats.
I would tell my mom and sister and dad to start lining up to greet me at the end of the white light tunnel because I will very much feel abandoned if they are not there
- I would make Saul vow to publish my book posthumously and make sure he would feel guilty if he didn’t even though it will be a pain in the ass to do
- I would post on Facebook that Donald Trump is the worst president ever.
- I would regret all the books I never got to read
- I would hold my husband’s hand a lot
- I would ride my bike
Except for the bus crush scenario I pretty much do versions of these things most days anyway.
Things I wouldn’t do if I knew it were my last day alive:
- Sex (I think I’d be too anxious and cranky)
- Keep track of my Weight Watchers points
- Yell at people (no strike that–I would still yell at litterbugs)
- Call my brother, Paul. I hate when he gets sad and it would be hard to avoid mentioning it was my last day
- Worry about the future
- Brush my teeth (sorry Saul—it may make all that hand-holding challenging.)
So, since I don’t know if I will actually make it home safe on this bus how should I approach my day?
Saul and I have a code word (not a safe word—get your minds out of the gutter). It’s Fire Pit. (Okay it’s actually two code words)
When we first started dating, we traveled to Phoenicia in upstate New York near Woodstock for our very first romantic weekend. I rented the place we were staying at and was very much trying to impress Saul. When we opened the door, it was a fluorescently lit tile room with stucco walls and a tiny TV that was about the size of my hand. Worst of all it had bunk beds. Bunk beds are not romantic no matter how many top or bottom bunk jokes you make. I am not always great at looking at the details when ordering things online. I am often disappointed when I open an Amazon package.
The room was awful
In fact, the entire first day was awful. We were trying our best but couldn’t seem to find our grove and our first weekend was looking like it would be a disaster.
“Let’s go on a walk,” I suggested that night.
We walked out in the damp air (yes, it was raining too) and climbed an incline to see what was on top. We came upon a fire pit and were presently surprised. There was some dry wood so we lit it up and sat by it and warmed up our body and souls. We leaned against each other and held hands. This was the romance we were looking for and it was all the sweeter because it hadn’t come easily.
“We have to remember this moments,” Saul suggested. “Whenever things are feeling rough, we have to remind each that you never know where the fire pits might be.”
We do remember and we do often remind each other to look for fire pits today.
So, whether this is your last day or your 5000th to last day I just want to remind you all to look for your version of your fire pit today.
Happy Friday the 13th!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR—Keith Hoffman would like his ashes spread over Tyne Daly