I learned the prayer as a tiny child, as so many of us did. “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” The words have long haunted me. They’re words I never liked and so it’s a prayer I did not teach my own children as they grew. They’re words a friend of mine did not care for, so she taught an altered version to her children. (Their version had angels watching over them and was much nicer.) As an adult, I rarely think of the prayer. That is, until recently.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine died as she slept. She climbed into her bed, she laid her head on her pillow, and she did not awaken the next morning.
Thoughts of mortality are inevitable in such cases. Thoughts of family and those left behind toy with our minds. Thoughts of final details and the arrangements that should be made beforehand fill us with resolve. Yes, I will update my will. Yes, I will call the Neptune Society.
And then, there are the other details. The every crevice and corner details of life that we might prefer to ignore. Unless we live a spartan lifestyle.
As I walked into my friend’s apartment, accompanying her mother, just a couple of day’s after her death, I was overcome by the enormity of the task before us. So. Much. Stuff.
As we walked around, lifting up this, moving that, her mother just kept repeating, “She was such a hoarder.”
She really wasn’t. At least, not by today’s standards. Not compared to the folks you see on the hoarder TV shows. Everything was neat and tidy. Everything had a place and everything was in its place. But, there was so much stuff. Because, like so many of us, my friend had something for everything. Everything a woman could need to get her through all that life could throw at her.
Yet, all I could think as we walked through that apartment, as her mom commented about her daughter being a hoarder, was, “Oh, my gosh, if I die in my sleep, someone’s going to have to go through my stuff. AND IT’S WORSE!”
Yes, we’ve lived in our house much longer than my friend lived in her place. We’ve had time to accumulate more. And there are more of us. At least, that’s my excuse. And, I’m blaming my great-grandfather. And my grandmother. And my mother. Hoarders all. And the “I might need it someday” mentality and the “so and so gave it to me” sentimentality that have been drilled into my psyche.
So, I’m praying my childhood prayer. But I’m changing the words. “If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my stuff to take.” Because I do NOT want my children to have to deal with this mess. Or my friends. Or my mother.
Dear God, get me through this night. And enough nights to come, so that I can purge. Purge A LOT.
Boy, do I have a lot of work to do. I might have to live to be 110.