“We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other. Our age yields no great and perfect persons.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
You just discovered you have fifteen minutes to live.
1. Set a timer for fifteen minutes.
2. Write the story that has to be written.
I’d probably cry and scream. I’d shake with anger at having my time taken away from me. Two minutes pass and I realize that it’s not my time to hold on to. Panic.
I want to call my Mom. If there are fifteen minutes left and my cell phone still worked, I would call my Mom and tell her how much she means to me. When I think about things ending or things beginning, I always think about calling my Mom. whenever something big has happened to me – or small – it’s her number that I dial first. Sometimes I’ll shake things up and call Brent before her, but Mom is always within the first three calls. Always.
I’d thank her for the millions of times she put me in check and kept me from making a foolish decision. I’d tell her I loved her and that I’d miss her pretzel salad. Then I’d tell her to smile for me. I want my last fifteen minutes to be happy. Our conversations never last too long, so there’s still a bit of time left. Time. It’s a funny thing when you think about it running out. Suddenly it seems just like toilet paper. Except its not in your bathroom and you’ve never even opened the package.
Dad would get a phone call too. I’d tell him I was proud of him and that I love him. I’d thank him for being tough on me and making me want to be my best. Even though there’s not much time left, I’m realizing that I always was my best. I was me. I was exactly who I needed to be. I try not to mourn for my loss of time.
Then, I’d write a note to my sister. I want her to have something from me. Short and sweet, I’d tell her that she’ll grow up to be amazing and that the whole world is ahead of her at only five years-old. Man – there it is again. Time. A few minutes of running through my memories, I’ll be at peace with the prospect of making only a few more.
In my last few moments, I’ll snuggle up with Brent and have him put a hand in my hair. I’ll breathe in deeply and say that this isn’t goodbye forever. I’ll thank him and squeeze his hand in a gesture of love. My heart will swell as my time runs out.
My fifteen minutes might be cliche or dull, but let me tell you that this is the truth. This is exactly what I would do. No tirades, no grand gestures to draw attention to my plight or a noble cause. Just a few quiet moments with the people I hold dearest to my heart. My goodbye would be simple – except I know it wouldn’t be a goodbye at all.
Whenever someone I loved died, I carried that person with me. I still do. There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think about my great-grandparents and stepfather. I talk to them in the car and try to imagine what they’d think as they saw me grow up. I’d think about how I’d show them the work I’ve done and the things I’ve created. I’d remember that just because you’re not alive anymore doesn’t mean your memory is any less vivid. It’s true what they say about memories living on, I guess. Someone may think of me from time to time.
It’s almost time. In my mind, I whisper an “I’m sorry” and a “Thank you.”
To whom, I don’t quite know.