Monday, September 6, 2010

If Ye Are Prepared ...

It is a mantra that I've applied to my life in many aspects, from being a Boy Scout as a youth to taking finals in college to gathering food storage for my family. The phrase "if ye are prepared ye shall not fear" comes from the Doctrine and Covenants and is found in the midst of a whole pile of instructions to The Church regarding caring for each other.

In the last few days, however, as I've contemplated the appendectomy that I just had, many people have asked me if I was afraid at the time, or if I was worried about it. I can honestly state that never once did I fear for my life during the whole ordeal. I felt truly and terribly awful, for sure, and in the throes of my agony I stated more than once that "I feel like I'm dying!", but never once did I consider that I would actually die.

I do have a healthy sense of self-preservation, though my wife would sometimes disagree when I express my desires to go bungee jumping or skydiving (I'm still forbidden by her, by the way ...). Perhaps I still have an "invincibility complex" that I've never quite grown out of from when I was a teenager. Or perhaps, worst of all, I just simply didn't imagine it was a possibility. (By the way, a failure of the imagination in failure-mode scenarios is a huge no-no at my place of work, and has literally lost spacecraft before.)

Either way, it never occurred to me. I fully recognized at that time that appendicitis was an infection that people used to regularly die from. One of my brothers even had a brush with death because of appendicitis. Even so, I let the nurses knock me out and wheel me off to the operating room with barely a backwards glance to my wife. I said no goodbyes and fully expected to see her within a blink of my eye.

In hindsight, I think I was prepared for the worst, so I never feared it would come. It's like putting fire alarms in your house -- it's a really, really good idea to have them, and pretty much everybody does, but nobody expects to actually need them. Indeed, the only time most people pay attention to them is when the "low-battery tweet" starts to go off at 3 am (why is it always in the middle of the night?!).

My own preparations for the worst include the following, from short-term to long-term:
  • I have piles of sick leave available at work. I'm a generally healthy person so this has just accumulated over time.
  • I can do much of my work remotely, if need be, by computer and by phone, so I didn't worry about being gone for a long time to recover.
  • I have two very good and reliable wing-men for my calling at church on whom I can wholeheartedly rely for everything.
  • I have a will that clearly states my beneficiaries.
  • I have enough life insurance that would pay off all my debts and keep my family in order for several years.
  • My wife knows where all the important documents are kept.
  • My wife knows all the important passwords for my online life (financial websites included and especially).
  • My wife knows where to bury me, if that needs to occur (though we haven't purchased lots, yet -- we still think we're a little young for that and we don't know where life will eventually take us in the long run).

In the midst of all these preparations, my ultimate demise, while a serious blow to my little family, would not leave them uncared for. And while I am certainly nowhere near being perfect, I feel sufficiently comfortable in my religious well-being that the prospect of "moving on" does not fill me with absolute dread.

This is not to say that I feel "ready", not by any stretch of the imagination. Indeed, I still feel like I have so much to do before that eventuality occurs! However, the saying is true: "if ye are prepared ye shall not fear". Trust me, I just tested it.

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