Countdown to the End of the World

Countdown to the End of the WorldFor the community of Newtown, Connecticut, the world as they knew it ended on 12/14/12.  I write this column with a great sadness in my heart for the families of the small children and others who lost loved ones that day, and to the entire community of Newtown.   So many of us are heartbroken by this insanity.   I write this in the hope that in the face of this tragedy, we can still offer hope for a future with a bit of a smile, even if we have to force it for awhile.

I know I am blessed, because I have never counted the minutes until the doctor came and gave me bad news.   I have never counted the minutes after an accident waiting for the ambulance, and I certainly never waited outside a school to find out whether or not my kindergartener had been gunned down by a crazy person.  Honestly, the last time I counted down, it was the seconds on the microwave as I waited expectantly for the Brigham’s hot fudge sauce to heat up.  At the time, it seemed like the longest minute in the world.  Now, I just feel sick imagining the hurt of the parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts and friends of those killed in Newtown.   While some of us are still counting down to the end of the world on 12/21/12, we know we are the lucky ones.

I am a lucky one.  My son introduced our family to the  “End of the World as We Know It” concept upon his return from college about two years ago, sitting us all down on our old leather couch, making us watch a “documentary” on the “History” Channel (really, History Channel?)  I fell asleep halfway through, as I often do watching TV (yes, even during Homeland.)  I guess I can simply relax when I know I am watching fiction.  I never once fell asleep during the news coverage of Newtown.

Despite the skepticism from the “real” adults in the family, after watching the End of the World documentary, we made a family pact.  It was just the kind of pact I love (second only to “winner gets laid” bets with my husband).  We decided that no matter what, the family would all be together for “The End.”  We promised:  Wherever we were, whatever we were doing, whatever our plans, on 12/21/12 we would be together in a place that meant something to all of us.  And no friends invited.

But that was years ago.

“I’ve got an exam on the 22nd” my youngest, a sophomore in college, informed me a couple of weeks ago.

“Don’t lie to your mother. I know you just want to stay in New York.” I know this kid, even if she doesn’t think I do.

This week, she informed me that she would, in fact, be with us for the 21st , but because she had work until late on the 20th  she might not arrive until later in the day.  She works part time as an organic vegetable juicer-and no, she could not change her shift because these were the  “black out” days before Christmas (I think the irony was lost on her.)  She reminded me that she never promised to be with us at a particular time.

“Get there when you can,” I told her.  “Don’t drive too fast, if it’s bad weather, or if you are tired.”  I wanted to say: “and watch out for bad guys.”

I went back to my son for a fuller explanation on the timing.

“What time on the 21st is the world supposed to end?” I asked him.

“6:00 AM,” he responded, without hesitation.

“Really?   There’s a time?”


No one’s been talking about the time.  I thought you should know.

I don’t actually believe any of these End of the World predictions, but  I am grateful for them.  My family will be together on that day and for the next few days after that- all five of us- no distractions, making good on a promise from years ago, even if one child will be on the late side.  I can and will hug each of those adult children really tightly every single day we are together, because the Newtown tragedy has reminded us that we live in a world where nothing is predictable.


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Ronna Benjamin

Ronna Benjamin

After 28 years of practicing real estate law, Ronna Benjamin realized how much she loved writing and how much she hated lawyering. She jumped into the world of writing at Better After 50 and never looked back! She is loving her “second act” as Partner and Managing Editor at Better After 50. Ronna writes humorously about the things BA50s are concerned about – personal experiences with adult children, the quirks of aging parents and in-laws, and her own emotional and physical health issues (i.e., insomnia, anxiety, and bulging waist lines). A native Bostonian who loves to spend time with her husband and three adult children, Ronna also enjoys sailing, cooking, running, and biking–and she tolerates skiing so she is not left home during family vacations. Check out her new book “We Are Better After 50 Because…” co-written by Ronna and her BA50 Partner Felice Shapiro, a perfect gift for the birthday girl in her 50’s! 

  9 comments for “Countdown to the End of the World

  1. Brett Cook
    December 18, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Loved this – such an artful balance of the grim and the sublime. And a reminder that really we need to approach and infuse everyday with such attention and presence. Many thanks.

    • Ronna Benjamin
      December 18, 2012 at 9:08 am

      Appreciate the comment, Brett- just trying to keep it light for the last days of the world, but with so much tragedy, it is not easy!

  2. December 18, 2012 at 10:31 am

    If the world does end, I’ll be with my sister. And I guess I won’t have to finish the novel that my publisher is waiting for and this giving me anxiety attacks.
    And I know it is hard to be light, but for the sake of those wonderful children, we must carry on. Do something to make a change. And never forget.

  3. Marlene Clayton
    December 18, 2012 at 11:12 am

    A good relief in these time. I do hope my children know they are loved, if the world should end, suddenly but a good time is now.

  4. December 18, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    For the families I would think it is the end of their worlds. It is so very sad.

    My doctor called to reschedule an appointment for me and I thought that would not be such a good idea, the following week looks better to me, just in case!

  5. cody
    December 21, 2012 at 9:25 am

    its fake

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