Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here
Prince died without a will. So did Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jimi Hendrix, Pablo Picasso, Howard Hughes.
Something like 64% of Americans don’t have a will, and for good reason, as I found out when we updated our wills from 29 years ago. Then, Pam and I were still deciding who would be guardians for our nine- and eleven-year-old daughters if we were both somehow erased from existence. Now they are both older than we were when we wrote that first will, and we are hoping someday they will be our guardians.
The prep work was daunting. What did we have? What was it worth? Who should get it? The list of questions went on for pages. We scavenged basement files for old records and documents.
The lawyer, the same man, as it turns out, who drafted that first will says, “It’s my job to ask the questions you may not want to think about.” We nod. “Your simple scenario assumes you die before your children. What if that’s not the way it turns out?” I did not want to continue this line of questioning, but he goes on. “You want to leave something to a grandchild who may be a minor when you die, but what if she’s struggling, he has a drug problem? You know—not the best time to receive a sum of money?” Suddenly the glossy narrative we just assumed is interrupted by alternate story lines, all of them sadder, but possible. We have to acknowledge that, think about that, plan accordingly.
We leave the lawyer’s office and head home. The car is quiet. Too much to think about, especially since everything we ponder presumes our deaths. Without any conscious direction on my part, the car pulls off the road and parks in front of a pub we have never seen before. It is 4:30 and the place is nearly empty. I order an IPA and Pam a Manhattan. We did it! we say, clinking our glasses. Even though we did not want to, we acknowledged that our lives would end. Hear! Hear! We found all those dumb documents, even those we ended up not needing. Sláinte! We survived our lawyerly Cassandra’s dark prophecies. Cheers! Essentially, we said yes to the future, yes to life, whatever it brings. L’chayim!