About a year ago I was taking in a Shakespear in the Park production in New York and I ran into an old theatre design teacher of mine. He's gay, and when I told him I had gotten married he asked me very earnestly (New Jersey was mulling over civil unions at the time) "how is it?" I told him that the biggest difference I felt was that it was now okay to openly talk about my shared future with the other person. My former teacher is good at getting expository truth from people and my answer knocked me back since I had never articulated it for myself. When I was dating, even when I was in a long term, stable relationship, I was always leery of say, making Christmas plans in August.
Now that I'm married, planning can span months, years, and now I suppose, beyond. I was just notified on Monday that my life insurance policy through USAA had begun and if I crump before I turn 49, Laura will be the sole beneficiary. It's heady stuff, but I've been raised to be pretty practical about it.
Growing up, my parents would start many a conversation with "if your father and I dropped dead tomorrow..." Family friends and relatives would shift over the years and become the ones nominated to take care of my brother and I should my parents die. Once I became an adult, any changes in post mortum plans would be covered during my time home from school or when my parents would visit New York.
It has now been passed on through to the next generation like a potato salad recipe. Mortality is inevitable, and planning for it is just another form of hygiene. That doesn't exactly take away the ol' fear of death or make me feel like riding my bike like an asshole, but I was able to openly talk with Laura about future plans, even those that don't include us both.