This morning, as I came into work at the police department I was overwhelmed with activity.
Another dead body had been found. The voice on the other side of the radio described, “a very strong smell coming from the apartment and flies on the windows.”
It’s as gruesome as it sounds, but it really got me thinking. Thinking about dying in an apartment and being found in such a way. As the detectives exclaimed and booed (third one this week), I couldn’t help but feel like the entire scene was surreal. Would it be the same when I die?
To make light of the situation (in a way), I thought it would be interesting to list the ways I prefer to go. I have always found the answer to this question to be enlightening about the person answering it, and I hope you, the reader, will feel free to give me your preferred way to go.
I don’t see death as the end of life ~ just the end of this life. My own spiritual convictions keep me from fearing the unknown, but I can say that I have feared and often fear how I would go. So this is my wish list…kind of odd I know, but maybe today and number three (that’s my number) ~ just warrant that.
1. Fast Car.
I have always loved driving, but mostly just driving at ridiculous speeds. Something about the manual stick shift in my hand, the pedals beneath my feet, and the sound of a fast engine get me going. My father put me in the driver seat the first time when I was about seven years old.
It was late, the restaurant had closed, and we had gone to Bi-Lo for some groceries. As we came back out to the almost-empty parking lot he said, “Why don’t you drive?” I looked at him with total amazement. What? I climbed into the van and pushed the button that would carry my little body all the way forward so I could reach the pedals.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to back up because as soon as I hit the accelerator the whole van jerked forward in a kind of sickened lurch. Dad laughed and I felt silly. “Slowly, just press slowly,” he said. So I let my right foot lean in and the van started going forward. But the movement of the van toward the road and the view of the street freaked me out.
My foot jumped off the pedal, and because we were on an incline, the van kept going. Fear seethed through me and I froze. But my father was expecting it, and he patiently leaned forward to push the break with his hand before sliding the gear into park.
I became very familiar with driving. My father let me drive around the hollow where our restaurant was. It was a small community. I practiced on the hills and learned how to back up and park.
One night in the middle of a dinner rush, my father needed me to return his movies. It was a matter of great emergency, and I was to take my little sister. As I was pulled back into the restaurant parking lot I saw my father anxiously pacing. One of the waitresses had seen me leaving, and when my father told her where I was going, she reminded him ~ I was only eight.
We still laugh about that night a lot.
My father also instilled great driving philosophy in me. For example: if traffic is behind you, they can’t hit you. This one is my favorite 🙂
I never lost my appreciation and enjoyment for driving. It is my ultimate freedom, the singular way that I can leave any place or moment I feel like. My big explorations would have only been dreams without the ability to drive.
To leave this world with my heart beating so wildly that I couldn’t think straight, but feeling more alive than I ever have ~ wouldn’t be so bad.
2. Battling some great disease!
It sounds ridiculous, but when we are inundated with commercials and ads and blah blah about this disease and that disease ~ it is just realistic to contemplate those endings. And I know ~ I would live until the end.
There is cancer on both sides of my family and fun other stomach-punchers like high blood pressure (heart attack) and well, other stuff. Cancer (in particular) is scary, sad and downright evil.
A woman lives on my street. She has cancer. She comes outside for the sunshine. Her head is shaved, she is very pale and sits in a wheelchair. But she always smiles, and her smile is so radiant to me.
There is another woman who goes to my church. She has cancer. She too, wears a shaved head, and carries herself with grace. Her hands are in the sky during worship and she smiles often. Her husband always stands a little too close and it’s obvious he is protective of her.
Cancer and many others are dreadful and ugly diseases, but we are all going out in one way or another. Whether we are lucky enough to escape such a desperate ending or succumb to genetics and life ~ I think it is extremely important to be thankful for the life we have lived, and live out those last days with cheerfulness in our hearts.
My best friend’s mother had breast cancer about two years ago. She fought it and was able to overcome it. The entire time she worked and held her head high. She never complained and rarely said anything about feeling bad. She was graceful and beautiful even as she cut off all her hair and paled. She never stopped being thankful.
I want to do the same if I am given this task. I want to appreciate the life I lived, so my last days would bring happiness. And so when my body is laid down to rest, there will be a celebration. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
3. Next to the love of my life. This is my first and greatest wish.
Now I have to go there because, I am a sappy romantic. I know it sounds ridiculous and impossible, but that’s the way I am ~ so there.
I want to die while holding the hand of the man who loved me, worshiped me and made me shine my special sunshine. I want to die knowing that I lived a life with someone who had my back, that fought through life at my side and never left me.
I want to be able to replay our memories, our wedding, our moments spent locked in each other’s eyes. I want to know I was a part of a great love ~ the kind that rarely occurs, and affects everyone like a storm.
Because truly ~ all the travels, all the money, all the presents and nice clothes and wonderful public mentionings and prizes and awards would amount to absolutely nothing ~ if I had not loved and been loved.
These are my top three. I had contemplated the perverbial, “dying in my sleep” until I wrote about dying in a racing car. Why would I want to cheat like that? Why would I want to just fall asleep and wake up somewhere else? Why would I not want to be able to have the chance to say goodbye? If I wanted to die so awake, how could I want to die in silence?
Dying in your sleep is for the weak at heart ~ as far as I am concerned.
I want to be I am alive, and very aware when my last moment comes. I want to feel, touch, taste, see, hear, and smell everything around me before I go.
Because life is just that sweet!