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The Last Time I Did Stuff

When did you last turn a cartwheel?

I asked myself that same question last night, when it just popped into my head as I watched a thirtyish woman doing one on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The actress herself probably wasn't doing it. This was no doubt her stunt-double. Actresses are too valuable to risk brain injury, but I was never that valuable and used to be able to turn a pretty decent cartwheel. When did I stop? Did I know the final one I just did was going to be the last? Of course not. I was probably college-age, and it would've been on soft natural turf in the back yard of my parents' South Carolina house. Where if I fell, it'd be into just clouds of green clover. And it would've been during warm weather, because acrobatics are awkward in bulky winter clothes. It certainly wouldn't have happened in my later years in New York City: too much concrete. Clothes an issue. And me trying to be so grown-up about everything. And my hair! I just don't see it happening.

There was a last time I bit my fingernails, thank God--I didn't know it; I thought I was condemned to nibble the ugly shreds forever, but no--there was a last time.

This is not a thread I particularly want to follow, but too late now. Just think of all the things I've already done for the last time. Whew! Some of them I'm aware of, and some not. I mean, I know and fully accept that I'm never going to jump out of a perfectly good airplane again, but what about seeing some of my loved ones? Have we already visited each other for the last time--and hugged--and not known it? Scary. But it happens. One autumn night way back in the early 90's, my father and I spoke by phone about his reaction to a recent flu shot. The next morning, my mother called to tell me he had died in his sleep. The flu shot hadn't caused it; diabetes and heart trouble had. He'd been fighting those things for years. Living with them, more-or-less successfully. But now he was gone, just that quick.

Would I have wanted to know, the night before? So that our phone call would've been more meaningful? Hell, no. Neither of us would've been able to get through such a thing. We both would've died right then and there, of impending grief and dread and sorrow. It's so much better to be ignorant, in my opinion.

But sometimes you do know. Sometimes a doctor tells you. Sometimes a nurse puts your failing baby into your arms, with everybody knowing that we're irrevocably approaching the last night together, or the last hour. Or the final, final breath. How do people stand it? How do they live through it? People all over the world are experiencing the worst day they'll ever have, and here I sit typing on my laptop with my cat Casey next to me. He's worried about the thunder we're hearing in the distance. Me, I'm not worried at all. How selfish. Sometimes I make myself want to puke.

Here. Now. Annette the Unbelievably Lucky, considering only some stupid cartwheels...
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