A few years back, Shawn got really obsessed with zombies. I think he was binge-watching too much of The Walking Dead, or maybe it was when he re-read World War Z. In any case, for months he would constantly bring up the issue of what we would do in the event of a zombie apocalypse.
The conversation would go something like this:
Him: “Marjorie, we should really think about what our plan would be if the zombies took over!”
Me: “You are crazy.”
Him: “You are not taking me seriously! What would we do? Where would we go?”
It would go on like this for a while, with me dismissing his ideas and him continuing to detail all of the problems with a zombie invasion. I think he would keep harping on this topic because at the end of the discussion, he knew I’d always be laughing. And he loved that – making me laugh, I mean.
But back to this topic. If you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know much about the pop-culture infatuation with zombies, I’m here to tell you that it’s a very real obsession that Shawn shared with a number of other people. Or maybe “shared” is a strong word. I think the other people with whom he discussed this topic probably just appreciated listening to his overly exaggerated account of what might happen to all of us if zombies took over.
Because there would be a lot of problems in a zombie apocalypse.
First off, zombies are relentless and so you need guns and other weapons to fend them off. We did not have anything like that in the house, so Shawn went out and bought an axe just in case. (For real. I think he may have needed it for other things, but since I said “definitely no” to the gun, he bought an axe instead. “To use to smash the zombie’s heads apart, obviously,” he told me when I questioned this purchase.) When some of Shawn’s friends helped me go through his things after he died, one of them took the axe. I told them I didn’t want it because it was just a hazard with young kids in the house and that no one was going to use it. So now I have no axe.
Also, if you are going to survive during the invasion, you need a supply of food and water. Shawn made me store bottled water in the basement (to be fair, he noted we might need this for a natural disaster as well) and he encouraged me to do lots of my own gardening. He even built me my own garden beds. Sometimes when we were hanging out in the backyard with friends, Shawn would brag about how my garden could definitely get our family through a few weeks of zombie fighting.
In addition, you would need to build some sort of barrier to keep the zombies away. Shawn was handy, and kept a lot of leftover lumber in our back garage. Two years ago I tried to throw it away, and he reminded me of all the things we could use it for. “Even for the zombie apocalypse!” he said. I laughed, as I’m sure he knew I would.
But in this crazy scenario where the zombies took over, Shawn believed that we might have to flee DC with our family. In that case, the plan was that I’d put Tommy in the carrier, Shawn would put Austin on his back, and Claire would run beside us because she’s a great runner. We’d travel to Canada and live off of his parent’s farm. He liked this plan so much that we spent an entire summer family reunion actually laying out how we would defend their farm from the zombies (a barn comes in very handy, he argued, as he and his brothers-in-law could shoot them from the roof.)
I thought about all this because I was in our back garage the other day and I saw the lumber. I then remembered the axe, and how I’d given it away, and the garden that I’d let die. I hadn’t thought about the zombie apocalypse in over a year. But right then, standing in our cold garage, I could almost hear Shawn’s voice.
“We need to plan, Marjorie,” he always said.
So what’s my plan now? Run for the hills with my 71-year-old father and three kids? Figure out how to construct a barrier and defend my home when all I have are nerf guns? Or just give in to the zombies?
I don’t want to lay down and die (or become undead, or whatever a zombie is.) But the fact that I’m spending so much time thinking about this highlights how insecure even totally insane hypothetical situations can make me.
Shawn kept me safe. He kept us safe. I felt that every single day.
And now it feels like the zombies may come any day and I’ll have nowhere to hide.