Midlife crisis and that one time a bee stung my shoe.

I got a macro photo of it. The bee, not the midlife crisis. Actually a few photos because I was fascinated by the frozen moment of death that the bee was in. I guess it was undignified as it was both dead and looking a bit silly for stinging my shoe, but that didn’t stop me.


Last year when I read The Happiness Project, the one month featured that stuck to my brain like velcro was the one in which the author focused on examining her feelings around mortality. To this day, I can’t think of any of the other 12 chapter topics except that one. I have been in a bit of a crisis for a while about my feelings surrounding death. Driving the children to their former daycare, I had to pass a cemetery and it was quite moving to see the new graves each week. I could not NOT think about death on that bi-weekly / twice daily trip. The question I could never answer for myself was, if it bothered me so, why didn’t I just take a different route?

Gemma has decided to take christian religious education in school this year. As parents, we can opt her out, but she is curious. She asked to stay in the class. With an atheist father and a religiously confused mother, Gem is having quite the learning experience. While there are many aspects we discuss, the different views on death (and more specifically what happens after death) have been a hot topic lately. That led me to lots of research online because I could not answer many of her questions. Finally, yesterday, I was given a book that I had nearly read more than a few times before, but have ultimately been too afraid. I took it as a sign and dove right into Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. If someone can write a whole book on the subject, my mortality crisis must not be all that unusual. With social media, I find myself very aware of loss. Before it was news you got in person usually about someone you knew in real life, but these days I often cry for strangers…their bereavement, like their families, I come to know through words and images in their online stories. I marvel at the strong faith most openly share without a hint of ambiguity. They KNOW. Well, I will share this with you. Since becoming a mother, I gave birth to a fear of death. I am adrift in uncertainty. The only way I have been able to deal with any fear in my life is to confront it and learn about it. Like spiders for example, I used to fear them until I found myself in my jammies nearing midnight and chasing a huntsman spider out my front door. While still searching for my conviction in what happens after we die, at least I have finally come to the decision that I would like to have my ashes scattered in the ocean. That way, anytime my loved ones felt the sea breeze or collected sea glass, they would think of me. I like the idea of those beautiful things being forever linked with this life I am living on earth. I know what I want to believe, I just need to find the strength inside of me to turn the hope into something more solid. Or maybe the hope is actually all I need.


So to the bee I say this, thank you for allowing me to celebrate both your death and my mid-life crisis in a photograph. Sorry about the shoe, but really, when you try to sting people, it usually doesn’t work out all that well.

I promise I will not turn this into a crazy blog about all my different neurosis, but I am infinitely curious. If you have it all sorted out, let me know.

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  • Sarah - “Since becoming a mother, I gave birth to a fear of death. I am adrift in uncertainty.”….you have put into a sentence, exactly how I feel. In fact that whole piece could be me. Now I will wait for your verdict on the book 😉April 9, 2013 – 4:05 pmReplyCancel

  • anne laney - 1) i think it’s way awesome that you are allowing gemma to explore new religions. I think all of them are fascinating in their own way.
    2) i had to google hunstman spider.. I REALLY WISH i hadn’t!
    3) i’ve always been scared to die… but having a kid made it way way worse.. it made me realize how precious life was and how i want to stay around and enjoy it as much as i can.
    4) NO ONE has it sorted out.. if they do they are LYING! ;o)April 9, 2013 – 4:23 pmReplyCancel

  • Aimee - Since becoming a mother I, too, have a sometimes overwhelming fear of death. Someways it isn’t so much as fear but I’m very a aware of my mortality. Often when doing the most mundane things like holding my children’s hand or giving them a bath a wonder what is there beyond this life. My son is very aware of death from learning about it at school or seeing it in movies (Finding Nemo always gets him talking) and seeing a the photos of my mom who passed away seven years ago and who he doesn’t know. Always asking questions and I try to find the right answers. I am like you the confused mom on religion but I want to believe in something so I can comfort my kids (and myself).

    I guess all I wanted to say is… Me too. 🙂

    They book looks interesting. Will check it out.April 9, 2013 – 4:58 pmReplyCancel

  • Imene - I used to fly all over the world for work but since I had children I freeze at the thought of flying. Not exactly great when you’re expat and the fact that you need to visit family comes with a 6000 miles trek.
    I think having children makes some of us realize we are merely mortals and that our happiness holds by a thread. I’m not sure how to deal with it and if I ever will
    Thank you for sharing and being honest about it and don’t worry about sharing your “neurosis” we all have at least one and it feels good to know we’re not aloneApril 9, 2013 – 10:55 pmReplyCancel

  • Angela K - I have never feared death, even after I had my 3 children. It’s because I know without a shadow of a doubt where I will be when I die. In my family, we joke around and call it “sudden glory” if we were to pass instantly. We call it that because we know that we will be in Heaven with Jesus and that will be glorious. I was saved when I was 13 after an especially moving Sunday night service at our church. I went to my Mom when we were home and we both kneeled beside my parents bed and I accept Christ as my Savior. Since that day I don’t fear death because I know that when it is my time, I will be rejoicing in Heaven alongside Him. I’m not telling you this to push my religion on you, but I wanted you and others to know that you can know what will happen if you die. You don’t have to be afraid of death.April 10, 2013 – 12:40 amReplyCancel

    • sesame - See, that is the kind of faith that I am talking about. You are certain. I married an atheist with a Jewish mother and I am a lapsed Catholic who is drawn to both Buddah and the Quakers. Color me confused. I completely respect your conviction. The thing I grapple with is that I also respect the conviction of my my Hindu friends and my Jewish friends. I have the hardest time with the conviction that there is nothing after death as I really want to believe that there is. I just have not found anything organized that fits all my requirements (meaning something that tells me I am right after all.)April 10, 2013 – 12:26 pmReplyCancel

      • melissa - Love your honesty, and transparency in your post. Totally respect your grace in response to Angela K’s comment. I’m curious, what do you believe happens? You say that you are looking for something that will tell you that you are right after all, right about what?

        I’m also an expat living in Geelong. Been here now for 11 years. Just recently found your blog and have enjoyed reading your posts, so thanks.April 10, 2013 – 10:54 pmReplyCancel

  • Amanda - Poor bee! I feel the same way about being scattered across the sea – I find sea glass fascinating so I’d love if my loved one thought of me if they found a piece 🙂

    I love your blog! I was just wondering how you bridged the gap between only being read by family and friends and then a wider reader base? I’ve just started a proper grownup blog and am unsure of how to branch out my readership so thought I’d ask for some advice 🙂 amandasummons.com/blogApril 10, 2013 – 9:44 amReplyCancel

  • Leah - Gah. I had a death crisis in my late 20s. A combination of trying to finish my thesis and who knows what else. I sometimes have a hard time with things especially as an atheist.

    Here is a great quote from Ann Druyan (Carl Sagan’s wife): http://mrevaaaaa.tumblr.com/post/4395830934/a-quote-from-ann-druyan-best-known-as-the-wife-of-the

    Also something that Roger Ebert wrote a couple years ago: http://www.salon.com/2011/09/15/roger_ebert/

    I had a lot more written here and I think it’s everyone’s personal journey so I don’t know if it helps for one to say, “This will make you feel better.” Eh, it’s a hard thing to think about. For me I just try and enjoy every day and laugh at the bad days if I can.

    I do want to do more with this short time I get. We have decided to work on traveling more as a family, it’s a big damn planet!

    Also I think my first time commenting here. I absolutely love your photographs. They make me want to be better with my camera :).April 11, 2013 – 4:18 amReplyCancel

  • Claudia - My husband and I are both atheists.
    What scares me about death is not the dying; It’s being away from my children forever. The thought of missing their lives (not the loss of my own) could bring me to my knees. They are amazing, and I don’t want to miss it!
    Thanks for sharing this touching post.April 13, 2013 – 2:19 pmReplyCancel

  • Nina - Sometimes I believe, that our souls will live forever and some day we will be born again… And sometimes I remember all that smart books about our brain, and it’s so scary to think about black nothing, that would be after… So I just try not to think about it, and remind myself to live full in every second. It’s hard for me, I’m always running somewhere, I used to live in dreams about future and in thoughts about what I will do next day, or after we will buy new car, or move to another country… I used to put off my life for the future. But recent thoughts of death made me change that, so in some way it’s kind of useful thing 🙂May 3, 2013 – 3:06 pmReplyCancel