Truth: You’ve been dying since the day you were born.
Truth: We are exposed to an alarming amount of carcinogens and toxins on a daily basis through regular daily life (breathing, drinking, eating, touching).
Truth: There are no guarantees in life and yes you may walk outside at any moment and be hit by a hypothetical bus or a real bus for that matter.
Truth: In you using “Everything will kill you” as an excuse to continue behaviors that are causing indisputable harm to your body and mind, you actually can’t separate the two you are loosing all of your credibility as a reasonable, intelligent, rational human being.
I said it, you’re an ignorant ass for saying that and even more so for convincing yourself that it is true.
Let me tell you a true story.
I was born into the arms of a woman that I loved more than any other human being on this earth, my own mother included. She was the person that I (and countless others) called to divulge all of my secrets to. There was literally nothing about me that she didn’t know and she loved me despite all of it. My grandmother was this enigmatic mix of sassy, fiercely loyal, loving beyond measure and contagious. I imagine that for all of her younger years that everyone’s head turned when she walked into the room. Beautiful didn’t do her justice. As she aged she retained her command of attention. You knew her.
She did what she wanted. (Maybe this is why I turned out as I did…) When doing what she wanted wasn’t helping people, being the voice of reassurance, spoiling all of the people that she loved rotten. It included chain smoking Marlbro 100’s, chugging pepsi’s like water and ingesting chocolates by the boxes. This was before and after open heart surgery, a regimen of blood thinners and constant blood work. It was after pleas from her grandchildren to take better care of her self. After stern talking tos from doctors. After the very real realization that she was on borrowed time.
And still. She lit up every cigarette with a snide, “We’re all going to die anyway”.
One morning eight years ago my phone rang and my grandpa was frantic on the other line. “Reggy, Grammy fell, hurry run up stairs”. Up stairs referred to the inpatient recovery unit of the hospital. My grandma was there after a gruesome recovery from a stroke caused by an vicious asthma attack. An asthma attack that caused her to flat line, gave her a life flight to another state, put her on life support and caused her family to contemplate pulling the plug.
I rushed up there. A doctor was sweetly stitching up a gash over her left eye. She was in the bathroom when she fell, she didn’t remember how or why. She just did.
After the squad of nurses and doctor left the room. I sat on her bed cradling all 85 pounds of her in my arms. She broke down, sobbing for the first time in the weeks that we had been in the hospital together every day. She begged me to drop her off at the nursing home. She felt so terrible that she was a burden to her family. That she was a burden to her husband. That she had treated him so badly and that he was unabashedly in her corner every damn day of their 25 years of marriage.
And then with those larger than life brown eyes she looked me square in the eye and asked me what happened. WHY ME?
When you’ve woken up from a coma in the ICU, when you can no longer read, when you can’t make your affected side pick up a fork properly. When your liquids are thickened and you calories calculated for you. When you are utterly dependent on your medical team and infrastructure no one really wants to say to your face what happened and why this is your reality.
I said, “You died. We thought you were gone. And over MY dead body will you go to the Andbe home.”
She died 6 months later. I didn’t rush across the state the second time that she was on life support. I simply couldn’t see her like that again and I knew she wouldn’t come out of the ICU alive for another time.
My grandmothers funeral was on her 60th birthday. You have parents older than that. She missed the birth of her first great granddaughter, watching me graduate from college and years later knowing her final grand baby. She missed retirement with the best man that any woman would be so lucky to have. She missed so much of what could have been the most beautiful chapters of her life.
But hey, “Everything is going to kill you and we’re all going to die”. Aren’t we.
So, that’s why I’m pissed off when the people that I love sabotage their well being. That’s also why I’m no longer bashful about it. Prepare to be the recipient of my pleads, the bombardment of my arguments and the unleashing of a whole rash of shit that I will give you. I’m not sorry.
I didn’t want to be the asshole who argued every point with my grandma. I wanted nothing more than her approval. Her love. I was too young to call it enabling but I didn’t try hard enough to persuade her to quit, not just smoking but the general daily assault to her own body. I will always regret that.
When I lash out at you about your poor life style choices it might not always seem like it’s from a place of love. But trust, it is. It may be selfish, I don’t want to watch one more person leave this earth with their claws dug in asking themselves why? But, I also think that you deserve better. Here are the things that I want for you to consider:
-Be happy that you have good health to destroy. Millions of people in this country and billions across this planet are were born with any one of thousands of conditions or are at the mercy of diseases that they had nothing to do with acquiring. It feels unfair for you to throw away a perfectly able body, more than that, our bodies are an amazing orchestration of function and tenacity. Stop fucking up a
good brilliantly designed thing.
-Be considerate of your future self. You may not always be a twenty-something hell bent on being the life of the party at all times and at all costs. Some day you may decide that you want to run marathons. You may decide to have children in your forties and not live to see them graduate high school, or shit, preschool. You may have a loved one, maybe even your own child or your mother who needs an organ transplant and you’re not eligible to give them one because of the damage that you have done to your self. You may get cancer and have to experience the hell of chemo therapy. You may get COPD and not be able to walk a few steps without loosing your breath. Your life may depend on an arsenal of medications that you have to take every day to keep your heart from stopping. You may deeply regret all of the years of living like, “Everything is going to kill you, so fuck it”.