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.
- Set a timer for fifteen minutes.
- Write the story that has to be written.
(Author: Gwen Bell)
My heart is beating in my throat. I am frantic. Frantic. What should I do? What can I do? Moments race by before I realize that there is no time... to waste. Not a minute to waste.
There are stories to tell. Pieces of me that I want to leave behind. Somehow in these final moments I become aware of the need to leave something behind, to mark my presence in some way, to say I was here for fear that I will be forgotten.
Need I be? It seems such a ridiculous worry and yet, I wonder if my life has been enough. Did I do what I set out to do? What I wanted to do? Did I... matter?
I am aware of all the regrets. Of the trips I never took, the books I never read and never wrote, the gardens left unplanted. I am sorry for the cross words, the horrible things I have said to the people I love, out of anger... but mostly fear. I am sorry.
The last time I saw my father, I hugged him tight. He was in a wheelchair, his legs no longer able to hold his substantial frame. He was a strong man, an intimidating man. "I love you, Dad", I said in a whisper as I stood in the sunshine on the back deck. I was leaving to go back to California. Crying, I hugged him again. "I love you," I said. In 48 years, they were words that had not come easily, and yet... I didn't know it would be the last time I would ever see him.
I am grateful for those few moments of truth.
In the last 15 minutes I would hope that my life had been enough. That I had shown love and compassion and kindness, at least most of the time. I would hope that I could be forgiven for the times when I fell short, when anger and fear gripped me and blinded me from seeing what was there all along.
I would want my children to know that I loved them, with every bone in my body, every breathe in my soul. That for me, there was no greater joy than being their mama.
In the final moments of my life I would want there to be stillness. Calm, serene, stillness as I lay with my children one last time, hoping that they already knew what I wanted to say. Be who you were meant to be. Embrace your greatness and live, with all your heart and soul, knowing that tomorrow is never guaranteed.
And never forget.