30 Day Writing Challenge
Day Nineteen: Five Fears That You Have
As someone with a tendency towards anxiety, today’s topic is one I could richly mine. But since the writing prompt only asked for five fears I will do as instructed. Here they are (in no particular order):
1. Nuclear war. Since I came of age after the fall of the Berlin Wall, I didn’t experience the air raids drills in preparation for a Soviet attack that Americans of earlier generations knew. Indeed, I grew up in an America where we felt invincible until a crisp fall day in 2001 changed everything. As a child the raw images of the devastation wrought on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 by my nation terrified me, haunting my thoughts. The shadows left behind by those vaporized from the blast shook me up the most. Those unfortunate souls never knew what overtook them and had no chance to say goodbye to their loved ones.
2. Cancer. Since 1997 three people who were dear to me have been ravaged by this affliction. It started with my great-Aunt, who succumbed to colon cancer in 1999. My beloved Grandma would be the next one to fall, losing her fight to Osteosarcoma in 2004. And last year my high school friend Tiffni died entirely too young from breast cancer. Just watching someone you genuinely care about submit their body to chemo and still waste away and die is draining and painful. I can only imagine how excruciating it is for the one who is experiencing it. The last two months of my Grandma’s bout with cancer transformed the disease into one of my worst fears, filling me with such dread that I later prayed cancer would not be my cause of death.
3. Dying penniless. The idea of dying and leaving my family nothing but debts and the stress of scrambling to bury me is deeply saddening. Unfortunately, this is a situation I’ve watched unfold more times than I care to remember. Though I still have roughly forty years left (based on the average life expectancy for my demographic) and am in good health, I have life insurance just in case. And as much as my worrisome side frets that I should put every dollar I earn to use in the present, I’ve disciplined myself to squirrel away funds for my child every month. The amount I bequeath to her may seem minuscule in comparison to what the elites pass on. But in leaving her inheritance, she will know that her mama cared enough for her to think of her future and provide for her even after I took my last breath.
4. AIDS. When I was four years old, my Mama bought me two encyclopedia sets: Children’s Encyclopedia and Encyclopedia Britannica. As I could not read at the time, I only picked the volumes up and played with them, marveling at their weight and the intricate gold lettering on the cover. Two years later I learned how to read, and with that knowledge, I was now able to unlock the magic of those thick books. An only child with no one to amuse me, I often occupied myself by reading the encyclopedia. On a quiet Sunday, I thumbed through the “A” volume, and an acronym I wasn’t familiar with got my attention: AIDS. The mystery and controversy surrounding the illness fascinated me. From 1987 on I followed up on news and developments about AIDS(upon the discovery that AIDS was a retrovirus I researched that subject as well). As the alarm was raised in the 1990s about the disproportionate impact it was having on the African-American community, I knew it was a threat that I would have to take seriously. Indeed, it was my fear of AIDS and single teen motherhood that served to calm my inflamed teen hormones, keeping me a virgin throughout high school.
5. My child growing up and becoming mediocre. At this point, I am 99% certain my daughter won’t just meet but will surpass the expectations her father and I have for her. Much of this faith is due to the support system and resources that she has around her. Still, there is a tiny segment of my mind that runs various ‘what if’ scenarios. The upside of that, however, is that I then plot to block said situations from occurring!