You know how you find yourself in the kitchen and you can’t remember what you’re doing there so maybe you put your hands on the cold sink and look out the window but it doesn’t help? What works is to go back to the living room, sit down again on the chair you got up from, then retrace your steps back to the kitchen and somewhere in the hall you remember oh! Cheetos! Of course! Then there are the times you get in the car to go somewhere and even before you put the key in the ignition you get this funny physical feeling, and it means you’re forgetting something. Amazing! Where does it come from? What part of our body remembers we are forgetting something? I love it! Maybe you forgot to put water down for the dogs. You left your wallet on the mantel. You didn’t bring your passport, checkbook, credit card, birthday present for the party. You can’t proceed until it comes back to you, but it almost always does.

But now how about dying? Dying is no longer a never or even a when, but a how, because maybe you’re seventy-five, like me. What if I get that funny feeling just before I make my final exit? Then what if I have to come back, because if I’ve forgotten something, it means I’m not done, and I don’t want to return, at least not as a human being. I’d rather be a tree, or a bunch of kudzu or even a moth. I’d rather be a school of fish. “A whole school?” I can hear my sister asking. “Why not just one fish?” Because one fish in a school is the same as the whole school, but different, and I want to know what that feels like. Plus I love the way they swim in gestures.

Abigail Thomas has four children and twelve grandchildren. She also has a nephew, Thomas Mira y Lopez whose new book, A Book of Resting Places, everybody should buy. She writes mostly memoir, her latest being What Comes Next and How to Like It.

Photo by Lauren Crux