- Kristan Higgins
No, YOU die first.
Updated: Sep 10, 2022
As a long-married couple, McIrish and I have discussed death quite often. Our number one choice: die simultaneously whilst holding hands. After that, we disagree. Vehemently.
Not that long ago I was shedding some tears over my aunt who died recently.
My husband has never lost anyone close to him (yet). I say this so you won’t go all torches and pitchforks at him. Upon observing my tears, the man said—and I quote—“I hope you die first, because I think life would be too hard for you without me.”
There was a moment of silence. He may have realized he’d said the wrong thing.
“Welp,” I said, my tears drying instantly, “I hope you die first, because you’d be lost without me. I’ve been preparing to be a widow since before we even met. I have dozens of close friends. You have one, and you’re looking at her.”
“It’s just—” he began, but I shut that right down, readers. Oh, hell yeah, I did.
There’s a reason most widowed men get married again, and fast. Because they hate being alone. Women…not so much. Sure, I’m generalizing here, but we have friends, we volunteer, we work, we seek out our children and grandchildren, we have book club, we have girls night, we stay in touch with our friends since before we started preschool.
For example, Beth Robinson and I are STILL FRIENDS. We met when we were five. That was fifty-two years ago, gang. She came to my daughter’s wedding. I’m her daughter’s godmother. My college best friend is my daughter’s godmother. I see my high school buddies. The women I met when our kids were young…we’re still friends. The writers I met before I was a well-known author…we still go away for weekends together. My sister and I are practically welded together, emotionally speaking.
On the other hand, McIrish recently showed me some pictures of his fifth birthday party. “Who’s that?” I asked, pointing to one of the three guests.
“I have no idea,” he said.
I rest my case.
But the most delicious satisfaction came the other day. For the month of August, I holed up in a cute little studio apartment not that far away so I could finish a book. I came home at least twice a week, saw my husband, daughter, grandson, son-in-law, mother, friends, dog. But mostly, I was alone, churning out the pages, doing my job.
Now, the book complete, I am once again resuming normal activities. The other day, I told McIrish I was going to wage war on Japanese knotweed with the only thing that will kill it—Round-Up, the wicked strong kind.
McIrish expressed his concern that I would get cancer because I might not use it correctly, and, I don’t know, drink it. I expressed the fact that I’m 57 years old, am not an idiot, have used it correctly before, and the odds of me getting cancer from this use were teensy.
“Yeah, but if you’re wrong, I’d have to live without you,” said he.
“I thought you wanted me to die first,” I shot back instantly, because what good is being a wife if you can’t throw that kind of comment back in your spouse’s face?
“Having you away this past month showed me that you dying first would really suck.”
Boom! Mic drop! I did a victory lap around the garage, kissed my husband and went off to smite the Japanese knotweed. And I didn’t drink a drop of that Round Up, either.