I Don’t Like Surprise Endings

I saw a pop up ad on the web the other day called the “Baby Generator.” It invited me to upload a picture of myself and my baby-making partner and it, in turn, would send me a picture of our future baby. I never do stupid things like this. Well, I never used to do stupid things like this but I had exhausted my usual means of procrastination (i.e. refreshing my email, upsetting myself on facebook, adding things to a shopping bin on www.modcloth.com that I never actually order).

So I uploaded a picture of myself:    


 And then I uploaded a picture of my husband:

And within  just two minutes, the Baby Generator spat out an image of our adorable future baby:

Granted, biology wasn’t my strongest subject in high-school but I think the Generator might not be 100% accurate: there is just no way my husband and I could make a baby that is that tall! (or, cute?)    

I’m not actually all that curious about what any future child of mine looks like, because it’s no difference to me, really, if their hair is curly or straight, if their eyes are blue, brown or purple like those fake contact lenses. I just like the notion of certainty. I think I would sleep a lot better at night if I knew how my entire life is going to turn out. Someone please just tell me how it’s all going to end! 

I remember a doctor once reasoning with me about the futility of worrying about the future. Since I never could have predicted my mother dying the way she did, the doctor said, there was no point in worrying about it. Of course there was no point, I told her. And by suggesting that it’s the accuracy of my apprehension that should guide me, that the strength of my predictive abilities matters in any way to my peace of mind, means that she doesn’t get the point. Yes,  it’s true that I didn’t know my mom was going to die so precipitously and I never would have guessed the cancer she ultimately suffered with, but I always worried that something bad was going to happen. And something bad did happen. My failure, in this instance, wasn’t in worrying; it was in not worrying enough! If anything, what the doctor taught me, was that I need to expand my worries. My fear can’t be so generalized. I need to worry about all manner of terrible things happening to everyone I love and care for at any given time, like: illnesses, extraterrestrial aliens disguised as humans roaming cities, a comet or an asteroid on a collision course with Earth, snake-like graboids emerging from underground and eating people, the sudden appearance of an oversized, paranormal, marshmallow man with a red necktie.

I have to do this because I don’t want to be caught off guard. I don’t want to be going about my merry way and be ambushed by sadness and its army of anguish. I need to be ready for it. Like a boyscout, I need to be prepared. So when my friends wonder about whether their growing fetuses will have their mother’s nose or their father’s eyes, and they gush over the adorableness of teeny tiny baby socks, all I can think about-God-forbid-is all the possible things that can wrong.  

I’m so tired.   

My mom once told me that she would sometimes read the end of a really good book first, just in case she died before she read the last page she would still know what happened. I remember the two of us laughing about it at the time, joking about her extreme fatalism. What’s the point of skipping ahead, I asked? Don’t you just miss out on the beginning?

I don’t want to miss out on the beginning by being so fixated on how things are all going to unfold. So I am trying to tell myself that no matter what happens, if there is an outbreak of a Category D virus for which there is no known cure, if cloned dinosaurs escape from an amusement park or if I find myself in the eye of a twister, I’ll be able to handle it. I’ll be able to face it all. 

 As far as I know, as my mother slipped away, there was no story ending she worried about. With all the cliffhangers she left behind, in the end, she knew they would all turn out okay. I like to think that she had faith that I would turn out okay.