May 4, 2011 in Features

Looming birthday brings premonition

Washington Post

Dear Carolyn: I am in my 50s, married 30 years and have four children and six grandchildren. I am not religious but am spiritual. I am in relatively poor health, with diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol, but generally feel good and work out daily.

In my early 40s, when I was in good health, I had a premonition or whatever that I had till age 58 to live. Rationally, I understand that odds are I am deluding myself, but I sincerely believe this is my fate. Outside of this, I seem to be mentally stable.

I am struggling with whether to share these feelings with my wife and children on my 57th birthday or thereabouts. On the other hand, I plan to fill my “last year” with my personal bucket list and think that, without any knowledge of my concern for my nearing demise, they will all find my rather dramatic change of direction somewhat disturbing, especially my wife. I plan to stop working, travel for six months and do some, for me, quite unusual things. Money is not an issue.

I do not wish to cause my family any negative feelings whatsoever over what may be just a fantasy. Your thoughts would be appreciated. – Torn

Your motivation may be a fantasy, but your response to it is a detailed, thought-out, financially accounted-for plan. Because of that, and because the 57th-birthday bombshell brings more drama when less is best – I believe you should tell your wife (i.e., not your whole family gathered ‘round) about those plans as soon as possible.

You may be preoccupied by your vision, but no one else needs to be – especially since, under the purple smoke and incense, what you have is a natural impulse that just about anyone over, I dunno, 12 can relate to.

You might even displace the gratuitous stress of death-preoccupation with the joy of openly planning your trip.

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