Near Death, Always

I was out for a run the other day. As I came up a hill and it felt like my heart was going to pound out of my ribcage, I thought, “What if I dropped dead here.”

I don’t carry any ID when I run, you see; just a music player and a key and a tissue. What if I had a heart attack on the road at 8 am and no one could identify me? How do they identify people who drop dead in the street? I guess it doesn’t happen that often. Or maybe I’m just never around when it does. Maybe it’s like suicide; no one writes about it in the paper unless you’re famous.

Am I famous enough? I guess I would have to die to find out.

Before my next run, I remembered to put the piece of paper in my pocket. I wrote: “[my name.] [Phone number.] Penicillin allergy.” I felt better for about five minutes and then I started thinking, “I bet today is the day I drop dead on the road, just because I finally put the piece of paper in my pocket. That would suck.”

I didn’t die.

Yesterday we went up Grouse Mountain with the children and SA, who is on holiday right now, and my parents, whose 42nd wedding anniversary we were celebrating. To celebrate their marital longevity, they took us up the mountain and bought us lunch. Fantastic!

We were crammed tightly in the “Skyride” gondola — my parents, my husband, my kids, a bunch of hikers, and fifty to a hundred tourists. I have been on the Skyride quite a few times in my life but it was my kids’ first time. Just as it started up with its usual lurch I thought, “If today was the day the gondola broke, we would all die. My emergency contacts one and two are right next to me, my next of kin and the people I am next of kin to. SA’s parents would have to plan our funeral. And just this morning, SA mentioned that we should write our wills. If this were an action/adventure movie, the gondola would fall out of the sky right now. Or there would be a terrorist on the gondola.”

Note: There were no terrorists on the gondola.

There is a bear habitat at the top of the mountain. Part of the mountain is fenced — several acres, I think someone said — and these two bears live there. They were rescued as cubs and grew up together and now hang out for tourists to look at. I wasn’t worried about being eaten by bears, because there is an electric fence and a barbed wire fence, and also I think the bears are pretty happy and well fed. One of them sniffed at me but I think that’s because I smell fantastic, all the time.

We had lunch and walked around a lot and the kids took pictures with our digital camera, many of which were of the always-hilarious BUTTS. I deleted most of those. Kept some others. Trombone took this one:

Yes, it was foggy the whole time. Because it is August in Vancouver, that’s why.

This morning, Trombone found a t-shirt in his drawer with a picture of a bear on it and the word “BEAR” printed underneath. Kids’ clothes are kind of random sometimes. He wore it to the park for a huge playdate with a selection of his preschool friends and their siblings and one dog and several parents.

While the kids were playing and the moms were standing around a picnic table covered with snacks, a park employee came over and said, “Sorry to interrupt you ladies but,” and held up a sign that said BEAR SIGHTED IN AREA. I don’t know why he couldn’t say the words. Why did he hold up the sign? We all gasped, as was appropriate. He said, very importantly, “Yes, we had a report yesterday. And they go for the garbage cans..and you are near that one…”

It seemed like he enjoyed the gasps. I saw him go over to some other people and hold up the sign to them, too. I noticed later that the garbage can was pretty full. I wondered if maybe he should have emptied it instead of walking around with his scary bear sign.

“If this were a short story,” I thought, “the bears yesterday plus the bear shirt today plus the bear sighting would probably mean in the next scene we get swarmed by bees.”

But it’s not a short story. We came home and had lunch. We’re still alive, despite it all.

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