Divorce And Disaster: Who Gets The Kids When The Zombies Come?
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July 09, 2017


Weird fact about me: I’m a mental doomsday prepper.

Ever since I was a little kid, I have let my mind wander into wild, soap opera-like tangents where I fantasize the most tragic and impossible stories, then think my way through getting out of my imaginary predicament.

One might say that this was excellent practice for one day mentally rescuing myself out of a bad marriage; but, that’s a story for another day!

I have no idea how or why I developed this quirk. Maybe it’s a closeted flair for the dramatic or therapy-worthy levels of paranoia. Usually my “stories” involve some sort of insomnia-driven vision of a tragic situation that I will put myself to sleep by living out.

A recent story that played out in my mind startled me into seriously wondering:

“Who gets the kids in a zombie apocalypse?”

I should explain that I worked for nearly five years in public health. A frequent topic of conversation and training was preparation for and survival of disasters. A disaster could take the form of an epidemic, war or terrorist attack, chemical event, natural disaster, or even a zombie apocalypse. Perhaps, since we don’t really know the origin of zombies, we can file that one under “improbable (but freaky!) epidemic?”

The terrifying thing about any of these potential disasters is that, should one happen, we can expect for communication, travel, commerce, and other typical daily functions to come to a grinding halt. We might anticipate power outages, food and supply shortages, and mass chaos!

During such an event, we may have limited means to contact loved ones to see if they survived the event or are faring well since. A distance that we might easily normally travel by car will suddenly become days of walking in hazardous conditions.

A good doomsday prepper will have at least a three-day supply of food, water, and other supplies to take care of his or her family.

I’ll be honest, my idea of camping involves a queen-size bed, cable TV, and dinner in a nice restaurant. I don’t visualize things going very well for “Survival Audrey!”

When I consider a large scale disaster with the power to effect all areas of life, perhaps the most frightening thing for me would be wondering where and how my children are?

What if my kids aren’t with me when the swine flu or walkers descend on civilization?

Add this to your list of things that sucks about divorce: if it’s your ex’s visitation time when the zombies take over, who knows if they’ll return on time?

My ex and his family are hunters and outdoorsy-type people. I would have confidence that my children could live comfortably for a while on locally sourced squirrel by the light of a campfire while their dad picks off the undead with his duck hunting rifle. I can at least take comfort in knowing that his ample supply of camouflage fashion and years spent watching testosterone TV could pay off in my babies remaining safe longer than the average suburbanite.

I have visions of embarking on an 8-hour walk (according to Google Maps) to his house through barricades, abandoned vehicles, warning signs, and the growls of walkers coming from the trees. On a normal day, I would have no desire to visit his home or his town; but, my motherly instincts would drive me to abandon all good sense to seek proof of life.

Perhaps, my mission would be of the suicidal variety; but, who knows how long the breakdown of society would last? I can’t let some putrid, white-eyed monster keep me away from ever seeing my kids again! Leave it to the undead to completely disrupt our schedule!

The apocalypse at my house would probably more closely resemble holing up in the basement while we empty the non-perishables from the cupboards and fashion weapons out of gardening tools and household décor.

Somehow my vision also includes my husband’s ex banging on our door begging for shelter. A long debate ensues including a few rounds of rock, paper, scissors to decide if we let her in. If she’s allowed refuge, I visualize the rest of my (probably) short life spent listening to her complain and criticize the way we barricade the windows and the brand of canned beans we serve for dinner.

Eventually we agree to use her as a human shield when the walkers come through our neighborhood…

Part of me has to laugh at the ridiculousness, or at least enjoy a moment of delicious satisfaction in my sick fantasy. In either case, I will certainly hope that we never have to endure circumstances anywhere close to my vision! Not only can I confidently state that I am not prepared for such an event; but, I also have minimal faith in my ability to succeed.

It’s funny, though not entirely in a laughable way, how divorce has a way of infiltrating every event, decision, or action since. We can’t even experience a cataclysmic incident without worrying about the influence of exes or necessarily count on being with our children when something bad happens!

Perhaps I will follow some good advice from my former disaster-preparedness co-workers and begin my own stockpile of supplies for “just in case.”

Although my family starring in the next zombie horror flick is the last thing I would ever want to happen, for now, I am going to use it as therapy of the humorous variety to help stave off some of the inevitable stress that comes from divorce.

If we don’t laugh we cry, and if we don’t have something better than candlesticks to protect ourselves with, we die - am I right?


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