“You know, the ancient Egyptians had a beautiful belief about death. When their souls got to the entrance to heaven, the guards asked two questions. Their answers determined whether they were able to enter or not. ‘Have you found joy in your life?’ 'Has your life brought joy to others?’” – The Bucket List
“You’re going to die tomorrow.”
“Excuse me,” I said, glancing around the room nervously.
The old woman who moved like she was bent in half stepped closer to me. She tried to take my hand, but I pulled it protectively to my chest. She sighed, the type that said this-is-nothing-new, and said, “I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but you’re going to die tomorrow.”
“I cannot tell you the details. I hope this information helps you.”
She’s crazy. She’s crazy and old and weird. And she smelled like tuna fish. I am not going to take to heart the words of a woman who smelled of tuna fish.
But she was right about the lottery numbers. And the flash of bright light in the sky.
Dammit, what if she’s right? Am I just in denial? Should I be preparing? After all, if she’s wrong and I’ve spent my day living to the fullest would I really be upset?
So tomorrow is the last day of my life. It seems somehow wrong that I’m going to die on a Saturday. It couldn't happen right before I was supposed to go to a long, dreary meeting? I wish I knew a few days in advance as I would've totally called out of work. Not sure what I would've done with the time, but it would have to be better than editing reports from co-workers that had never met a Grammar text book.
Only one day left. I keep repeating it over and over again as though it will finally make sense. I’m obsessed with how it will happen. Mostly, I hope it won’t hurt. I want to be one of those people that others always say, “Well, she didn’t suffer” or “she didn’t feel a thing.” Of course, with my luck, it’ll be some freak accident involving space garbage, which will make me infamous in death. Please no fire. That is not on my pre-approved list of ways to die.
I must stop worrying about this.
Why couldn’t the damn psychic tell me exactly how it would happen? Is that messing with fate or something? Worried that if I knew a bus was going to mow me down, I wouldn’t go near a street? Okay, that’s probably fair. If I could avoid dying, I would.
Anyway, I’m not really one of those girls who suddenly wants to climb Mount Everest – hiking, ew – or the demented type who thinks it would be fun to go on a crime spree. I’m still me, just with an expiration date hanging over my head, and I’d be worrying too much about people’s feelings to ever steal, murder or whatever people on crime sprees do. My big plan is to be happy.
I've made plans with my sister and friends for this morning. Breakfast and shopping – might as well spend that cash in my savings account on my friends – and enjoying the camaraderie. I’m not sure if I should tell them. My sister knows. I tell my sister everything and she would be pissed if I didn’t mention something this huge. Not to mention, she knew something was up when I returned home after finding out the news. At first she was more than a little skeptical, but after I went through the list of all the things the lady was right about, she’s been taking it hard. I guess that’s to be expected. Death is always harder on those left behind. The question is – do I tell my friends? Is it better to give them the chance to say goodbye or is it okay to be selfish and behave like it’s any other day? After all, I don’t want to spend my last day with lots of tearful goodbyes and further rumination on how it will happen.
If you can’t be selfish on your last day on Earth, I don’t know when you can be. I don’t think I’m gonna say anything. I want to have fun, dammit. Enjoy everything that makes me happy and not allow fear to hold me back. Sky dive – or is that how I die? Dammit, stop thinking about it! – dance, laugh, and play. I want to focus on the good and not all the what if’s and never-meant-to-be moments. I want to see all the movies on my must-watch list and skim all those books sitting on my bureau that I meant to get to. I want to make the most of it, proof that I lived a good life.
I’d like to believe there is a heaven, where I can catch up with my parents and let them know I’ve moved beyond my anger (though, let’s face it, I’m sure a “remember that time you gave me food poisoning” conversation will sneak in there) and I’m just happy to see them again. I’d like to believe there is this other realm where we are our best selves at all times – wise and kind and fearless. But there is something oddly appealing about the idea of reincarnation too; a chance to get everything right with a clean slate. Sometimes I like the idea of coming back and getting another chance at life, but it seems like a lot of work and can’t a girl have some peace in her after life? I’ll wait to make that decision until it comes up. The only thing I know for sure is that I do not want to become a spirit trapped on earth or end up on an episode of Ghost Hunters, accused of molesting red neck boys in their sleep.
Whatever waits for me, I like to think that I’ve lived a good life. I was kind and generous more than I was selfish and mean. That while I made mistakes, I learned from them and constantly tried to be better. Isn’t that all any God can really ask of us – to learn and grown and continue to be our best selves?
I’m not as scared as I expected I would be in this situation. I’m still not sure I like knowing exactly when it’s going to happen, but it does give me time to spend my last day living and not worrying about the small things that can invade our lives.
I guess I’m ready.
I ended up telling my friends the truth. There was some disbelief followed by crying and hugging. I think I hugged more in that one hour than I did throughout my life. I didn’t really want to say anything, but it came babbling out. Besides, I didn’t want to make my sister carry the burden of that knowledge alone or get blamed for my selfish choices. That seems like a shitty going away gift to someone. “I’m dying and everyone is going to hate you. Bye-eee!”
I bought my closest pals Coach bags with my savings and made them promise to find me one day in heaven and tell me what happens with Jason and Sam on General Hospital. I don’t know if any other planes of existence get ABC.
The good thing about death is that I have no recollection of the very last seconds. I don’t have to carry the memory of a horrible death – was it horrible? – around with me for all of eternity. The bad thing so far is that there is a lot of paperwork to fill out in the afterlife before you can officially “move on.” I still don’t know what that entails, but at least I avoided the poor bastard line that led to some scary looking shadows. I’m faced with one final choice as myself – do I take a leap of faith and go to heaven or do I go back to what I know and try living again? It’s a big choice to make and I’m still not sure I know the answer. I purposefully left that line of form 22-B blank until I talk to one of the transitional counselors. I’m leaning toward heaven. It would be nice to see people I’ve lost and loved again, but even if that’s not possible, the idea of heaven is a lot more appealing at the moment.
So it’s settled. Transitional counselor thinks my best option is reincarnation, and after mulling over our conversation, I agree. There are still a lot of things for me to learn and according to his thick file folder on me, I have not fulfilled my true potential, so off I go.
I just hope I don’t come back as a jackass.
I just hope I don’t come back as a jackass.
For the Indie Ink Writing Challenge this week, Sarah Cass challenged me with "Tomorrow is the last day of your life. If you live it well, you will go on into heaven (or your version of it) - or hell depending on the life you've led. If you live it how you WANT to spend your last day, you will be reincarnated as anything you want. What do you chose? And what is the outcome?" I challenged Major Bedhead with "Around mid-morning one day, you realize that everything that is happening seems really familiar. After much thought you discover that you are reliving a day from your past; OR a dream/nightmare that you have had is now happening for real." You can read Major Bedhead's great response here.