I’m taking a break from my “Mom series” to reflect a little on mortality… and shame. Today I learned that a classmate of mine from undergrad (same department and year at a small liberal arts college) died suddenly last night. She was 38.
They don’t know yet what the cause of her death was, but she called her mom before bed to tell her she didn’t feel well, and then she never woke up. This shook me.
She and I were friends—in the same circle of dorm roommates, traveled together on international music tours, shared Facebook messages in recent years. While we weren’t terribly close, I KNEW her. We led parallel lives in some ways.
I immediately felt the barrage of emotions I’m sure a lot of people feel—guilt for not having been recently in touch, that weird misplaced guilt about still being one of the lucky alive ones.
And then I felt ashamed. I am SO. LUCKY. The hashtag-blessed? Me all the way. And I’ve hurt myself for so long engaging in something that could have killed me at any moment. My kids could’ve been motherless, my husband widowed. At any point—what if my electrolytes had been too imbalanced and caused my heart to give out? What if they’d found me dead hunched over a toilet bowl?
I feel ashamed for having whittled my worth away to that point for so long. Foolish.
But, I’m still here.