When the Eye Cream’s Gone: or, Skin Care for the Apocalypse

I looked at the little blob of cream swirled on the tip of my ring finger and thought, what the hell am I doing? Will anyone really care about crow’s feet when the food runs out?

I ration squares of toilet paper and use cloth napkins instead of paper towels, but I still sit down at my vanity (ah, vanity) to ‘gently apply cream under and around the eyes morning and night.’ I smear “micro-sculpting cream” over my face. It holds its own on my cheeks and forehead, but it is fighting a losing battle on my neck and décolleté. 

A few nights ago I started to laugh in the middle of my skin care routine. It seemed like a better choice than crying, at the time. The cold truth is, no one was coming to admire my complexion before all this. Certainly no one is coming now. No one will ever come, not before my skin products cease to have any anti-aging effect.

I will die alone. Because I damn well better have made arrangements for Angelic Daughter to be cared for by trustworthy, loving and younger people before that day arrives.

When I asked Mike how and where he wanted to go, to tell me if he wanted me and our daughter to be with him when he died, or if he wanted to be by himself at that moment, he said, “It doesn’t matter. Everyone dies alone.” He was right. Even if you go “peacefully in your sleep, surrounded by loving family,” you still do the actual dying alone.

Before Angelic Daughter was born, I wrote an elaborate “birth plan,” that all the different doctors at the teaching hospital where I gave birth to her pointedly ignored.

Now I think about writing a death plan. Not the usual estate and trust stuff – that’s all done – but information for whoever would come to care for Angelic Daughter if I’m carted off to the hospital and don’t come back. Will they respect the plan? Will they protect her, and let her be her own Angelic self?

Within the past few weeks, people over on the other side of town have used Facebook groups to ask for recommendations about in-ground pool installation, dog groomers who make house calls, and interior designers.

I guess that’s the same kind of magical thinking that has me applying eye cream and moisturizer every night. But none of these things will seem vital when we’re tilling the back yard and laying traps to catch rabbits for supper.

The meat processing and poultry plants are closed or closing, because their workers are sick. What happens when delivery people, truckers, grocery store workers, and God forbid, even more doctors and nurses get sick, and some of them die and others require long convalescence and rehab?

Did the pool lady and the dog-grooming seeker and the person looking at fabric swatches for the new couch give any thought to what happens when they need the yard to plant crops and they have to burn the couch for firewood? What will they do when the landscaper and house cleaner and the grocery deliveries stop coming? What happens when a storm knocks out the power, and most of the repair workers are sick?

I look at the chicken run in my backyard, currently serving as a compost enclosure, and think, “I should rent that out in exchange for compost and a share of the eggs.” Hello, barter economy!

I make note of how much sun each part of the yard gets per day, and mentally mark possible locations for additional raised beds. I think about learning to preserve, pickle and can things – and then decide I’ll take my chances with blanching and freezing – for as long as the electricity and the freezer hold out. In a pinch, the laundry room would make a good root cellar – it stays cold in there.

I wish I hadn’t gotten rid of that old sewing machine, although now, I’d prefer the one Grammie had, operated with a foot treadle.  I’ve got some firewood and an iron pot that will cook something in the fireplace – a stew, or the leftover chowder I froze.

Each day I anxiously inspect my vegetable beds for any evidence the seeds I planted have eluded the birds, and germinated. I’ve seen two, maybe three snow peas emerging. I’ll give the beets, spinach and lettuce another week before I replant – must have been the snow Friday. Sun yesterday and today should help, but I wonder whether my battery -powered, dull-bladed little chain saw can cut the trees that screen the window by my desk, to give the veggies more sun.

Planning on expanding domestic agriculture, I remain,

Your fatalistic, resigned but resourceful,


Image by Annalise Batista from Pixabay

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