You know how any time somebody mentions being nervous about flying there’s always somebody at the ready to pop out of the woodwork and tell them they shouldn’t be nervous about air travel because they’re statistically more likely to die in a car accident?
All of those statistics will come flooding back to you when you’re about to get into a car and drive it for several thousand miles.
(That’s not a picture of my car, by the way. Just putting that out there for those concerned friends and family who are ready to call me freaking out without reading the whole post. Dudes I promise: If I’d been in an accident – in a car that is not even my car – you’d have heard about it by now. Promise.)
I’m not a nervous driver, all things being equal. I lost a bolt off one of my brakes while speeding down a highway in the middle South Dakota once, but that turned out okay, so road trips like this current one really don’t hold any more mile-by-mile worry for me than a simple drive to the local grocery store would.
I’m aware, however, of the mile-by-mile increase in the likelihood of my guts being smeared all over the highway when I take these longer-than-to-the-grocery-store drives, so I prepare for every road trip by getting my house in order just in case.
Cut to: The Spreadsheet Will
I do this every time. It sits in my stomach a little bit funny, the way it feels to try to condense End Of Life details into an easily skimmable Excel list to email to my parents. I mean – it is what it is. I’m not sitting over here all sick or weirded out about it. It’s just an odd thing to think about amidst other parts of the planning process, like deciding which outer space themed t-shirts to pack, and if 10 new mix CDs will be enough to tide me over for the drive. (Spoiler alert: They weren’t.)
I used to get more in depth with this stuff (this necklace to my sister, these books to my nephew, this knick knack to my 4th grade teacher…), but the above list left me with less of an ooky feeling to write than past pre-travel lists have. And since it’s not like it’s an official, legally binding document anyway, this allows me to give my folks the full scoop without dwelling too long on the kinds of thoughts I really do not need to be thinking when tooling across desert highways at 90 mph surrounded by semis.
Man. I really need to add to my funeral playlist. Either that or none of y’all better stick around more than an hour or you’re gonna be hit with a bunch of repeats and that’s no kinda way to spend an afternoon – talking about a dead person while listening to the same fourteen songs over and over again.
At any rate:
1) I totally recommend doing something like this before any major traveling because – practical considerations and dubious legality aside – figuring out what matters to you in this context is just a really good exercise.
2) What would be on your list? Who should be called? Who gets a funeral-delivered apology letter? Who gets a funeral-delivered thank you letter? What music gets played? What possessions merit passing along? What gets thrown out so no one’s left scratching their head without you there insisting“I can explain!”?
If it’s not too personal, let me know in the comments. I’m curious what matters to people when it comes to this flavor of finality.