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I told my kids how the story ends

Spolier alert: Time is short, and I'm done doubting myself every step of the way

I told my kid how the story ends today. Yup. Just like that. The ultimate spoiler. Ultimate end of the story spoiler dot com.

We were walking from our little house that’s covered in vines to the cafe down the road, and the sun was out, but there was wind, and the clouds scattered across the sky.

One minute, we were standing in the white hot light of noon, and the next, the whole world smelled like rain and eucalyptus and so it went, through the shadow and through the sun.

I had all the coffee, and I had these pink streaks in my hair, and a pack of smokes in my bag that I wasn’t sure I’d smoke, but they were there, and basically it was that kind of full tank of gas and empty road and your favorite homies by your side kind of feeling, and I took out my phone and put on some music.

The Ramones. It was that kind of day.

Sheena is a punk rocker, Sheena is a punk rocker, Sheena is a punk rocker nowwwwww.

And I danced.

Fun fact: I cannot dance. I suck at it. I suck at it hard. And if you’ve ever seen me up in da club then you know this, and if you haven’t, then take my word for it and consider yourself lucky.

I can’t dance. But that doesn’t mean I don’t.

And I danced.

Sheena is a punk rocker nowwwwwwww. 

We were just the three of us, but there were cars, and some guy on a bike, and my daughter pulled on my arm. “Mama, aren’t you embarrassed?”

And I stopped and thought about it, right there in the middle of the sun and wind, the light and clouds. I thought about it. I used to be the kind of person who got embarrassed easily — I measured each word and each thought in what-ifs, and doubted myself every step of the way, until I figured something out, and it was big and it changed me.

And today, I knew it was time to tell my kids the secret that I had learned after too much time worrying about what others thought:

“Kids, it doesn’t matter. You know why?”

They looked at me, and I smiled, and I turned off the music and that’s when I told them the ultimate spoiler, the end of the story, and a lesson that changed my life.

“It doesn’t matter because we all die. All of us. Both of you, me, that guy over there staring at us on the bike, Pravda the Cat, Albert from the grocery store, Revital from the cafe, the prime minister, the taxi driver who took us back from Jerusalem, Netta Barzilai. Deadsies. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe in 100 years. It all ends the same.”

They stared at me with cartoon eyes.

“That guy over there?” I pointed to the biker. “He’s a goner. Hopefully not for a very long time, but he’s a goner. We all are.”

“Well, we kind of know that already, Mama,” my son said, like no DUH. He’s 8 and he’s learning long division in school, so he basically knows everything.

“Okay, good,” I said. “But what are you DOING with this knowledge?”

They shrugged. “What do you mean?”

“Well, since we know the ending, we get to do whatever we want with the story. And we get one shot. And the point is to make it a FKN great one. Have fun, guys. Because when it’s over — and it WILL be over one day — it’s OVER. So if you feel like dancing to the Ramones, dance to the Ramones, and fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke.”

I thought about my mom, and all the other people I’ve loved who have died — and there’ve been a lot — and how each loss reminds me every single day to keep on living, and to live well, too. And I told my kids this as the clouds passed over head.

“But babies, it’s not just about having fun — although that’s important. It’s also about being kind to others and helping them so they can have fun, too. If we all do that, then that’ll be a pretty amazing story for everyone.”

The clouds cleared and the sun beat down on us.

“Mama, can we go now?” my son asked. “It’s so hot and I’m so thirsty I might die.”

“Dude you’re not going to die.”

“Um, Mom, you just spent the last 20 minutes making a speech about how we are all going to die,” he rolled his eyes.

“Touche, salesman.”

“Come on,” my daughter said. “Let’s go. We’ve got a story to write.”

So I turned on the music — Sheena is still a punk rocker — and we danced down the road through the shadow and into the light.

About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer, Times of Israel's New Media editor, lives in Israel with her two kids in a village next to rolling fields. Sarah likes taking pictures, climbing roofs, and talking to strangers. She is the author of the book Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered. Sarah is a work in progress.
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