Beware of the Leopard

“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’ “

-Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

A month ago, my neighbor had a heart attack on a run while out of town and died. It isn’t my tragedy, but, it is devastating. He died and left behind two young kids, a wife, everything. I don’t really even have empathy for her because I simply can’t imagine it. It still hasn’t registered. I am trying to be the good neighbor and village mom my best, brightest, toughest, and scattered-to-the-winds, mom-friends have taught me to be. That part is easy.Looking at my own life through the lens of impermanence is hard.So. Fill out the forms. Put the stuff in both your names. Grant power of attorney and make a living will. Fill out the DNR and make it okay to donate your organs. Or not.These things have been on our someday list for years, and specifically for me to do last September once the kids were in school. We have basic wills and a plan for the kids, but not all those other things adults are supposed to have.Did someone sit you down and tell you the things you need to seek out and take care of as an adult? Where is the media campaign for The Hassles of Probate? Well, consider this your sit-down.*****There’s only a week left in school, so it is time for me to tick off the to-dos that have been on the list since August anyway. But…..I forgot that schools want parents so involved now. Here’s a question. Did your mom, or anyone’s mom except Katrina Kohlmeyer’s mom, who came on Halloween to adjust Katrina’s stupid, elaborate, princess costume and sneer at your too-big blue tights and girl smurf costume, EVER show up at your elementary school?No. They did not. They left in the morning and you got up and ate cereal and got dressed and brushed your teeth or didn’t, and you tried to keep the dog from escaping, and you left and walked to school. By yourself.Parents didn’t come for sundae parties or rocket launches or tapping maple trees or to listen to you rap or pretend to be Abe Lincoln. Because we didn’t do any of that stuff, for one. And there was separation of church and state, home and school, for another.

Come June, I miss those days, every year. I need the long, quiet minutes to think clearly. I don’t want to be in your hot, germ-filled, stinky classroom. I don’t want to cry in an elementary gymnasium at how you turned into an amazing human when I wasn’t watching. I need exactly 117% of the instructional minutes they get to see the big picture. I think. I’ve never gotten either.

Next week, I have one day I can run to the state records office to file papers without taking children with me into the waitlist of bureaucracy. Like a pioneer. And write a check, like a frontiersman. As if computers are still the size of rooms and not, say, here in my hand.I used a program to create all the documents yesterday (eForms. Do it. So easy. Free week trial should be all the time you need to get your house in order), made an appointment with a Notary Public, and am apparently just a long line and a fee away from full adulthood.I filled out these things yesterday, at my dining room table as the day turned hot and summer arrived. Window, by window, I closed the house from the creeping heat wave and turned on the air conditioning. Every year, this is a day I dread. When the sound of outside gets shut out and flooded over by humming of fish tank filters and fans and appliances and forced air. It added to the sense of existential uncertainty filling out a healthcare power of attorney creates.********What I’m trying to say is that I got drunk last night.And snuck up and hug-attacked the kids, and put the tooth-fairy money under Yoda on the dining table instead of under a pillow, and laughed too hard at Brooklyn 99 and held hands with my husband and ran through the list in my head of our separation of duties. Electric bill? Water softener? Did I ever close that account? This is 40.And today I spilled all the coffee and limped in, drooped my hungover self over a cart and oozed my way through Target buying supplies to last us a summer/week, whatever comes first. That employee was sure the kid ibuprofen was in the baby aisle. The one with all the rockers and Bumbos and playmats that is exhausting to even look at, and it was not. And I wanted to hunt her down and revenge-fart in her aisle, but really was already dangerously close to needing a lie down in the patio area. This is apparently also 40.*****Hug your kids. File the papers. Do your best. Godspeed.

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