20 December 2012

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
   - from The Hollow Men, by T.S. Eliot

My sister called me this morning. She was brimming with good humor, laughing over a news item she'd recently read that she wanted to share with me. When she finished her story and I offered appreciative laughter over the punchline, she added, "Oh, and I wanted to talk with you one last time before the world ends."

She and I have had several conversations over the past couple of years about the "Mayan Calendar" prophecy -- you know, the one where the ancient Mayans supposedly knew when the last moment of earth was going to arrive, and in their infinite wisdom decided to not waste the carver's time in recording anything beyond that fateful date -- but she's never given me any indication before today that she might have been seriously believing the world was about to wink out of existence. Incredulous, I asked, "You believe this?"

"No," she answered. "I think it's ridiculous. People have lost their minds. You won't see me building a survival pod under my house. Forget about the 25% of us who are supposed to be insane -- I think the number's closer to 80%."

We talked a bit about the various doomsday preppers and the wingnuts who are running around panicked today, and surmised how stupid they're going to feel when they wake up the day after tomorrow and realize they were mistaken. I told her I would be very interested to see if there is a spike in consumer lending, based on the wrong-headed notion that the loans wouldn't need repayment. And I asked her if she planned to celebrate the holiday tonight, or were they going to wait until after the end of the world.

She said, "Oh, we'll just wait until after the world ends. Much less hassle, that way." She added, "Besides, he's still on the river. Will be, until Sunday." The "he" she mentioned is my brother-in-law.

Great. So the world's ending, and she won't even get a decent kiss goodbye.

After the call, I sat thinking. I've got a miserable cold, replete with cough, fever and bone-breaking muscle aches. My husband has one, too. We've taken up residence in separate bedrooms so as to not pass the colds back and forth, or keep one another awake with the all-night coughing and hacking. Neither of us feels like eating or cooking. We look like hell and sound like it, too. 

I'd like to think that if the world's about to end, I'd be able to muster up a better front for facing it, and that we'd at least go hand-in-hand together, as we have traveled most of our lives. So tonight, no matter what else, I'm sleeping in our bed, spooned up against the beating heart of the man I have loved these many years.

The conversation also raised a question. If this really was the world's last day, what should I be doing, and who do I need to see? I came to the conclusion that I'm doing the right thing by writing now; that those who I hold in my heart know they are there; that in not losing my hope that I will awaken the day after tomorrow, I am remaining fully human.

Excuse me. I have to tidy my house before the apocalypse hits it.


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