The Yearbook Office
Writings on staying alive
 

I Never

(A response to )

I died on a Thursday. I think it is fair to say that for anyone under the age of 70 and in otherwise good health, you never wake up one day and know it is the day you will die. No, it smacks you in the face when you never see it coming.

It is the blood clot in your leg that makes its way up to your heart. It is the drunk driver who T-bones you at a red light. It is falling and slipping in the shower because you forgot to put the rubber mat down.

That's how I went: that damned rubber mat.

You find yourself barely awake, stumble into the shower in hopes you will feel like a human again and there is that rubber mat taunting you. "I'm not an old" you cry to yourself, "I know how not to fall down!" But you were wrong, or well I was wrong.

The moment I slipped, a strange calm came onto me. It was confusing at first but I quickly realized "oh, this is what dying feels like." As I fell, time seemed to slow down and I was fully aware of my senses. I quickly became consumed with all my regrets, the thought of things I would never have the opportunity to do now that I was dying.

I never watched The Wire or Breaking Bad. Or saw all those movies I always had to lie about having seen to fit in. I never got to Scotland, or Japan. I never made it to Halifax or even back to Chicago.

The list grew and grew until the thoughts manifested themselves into a pile of regrets right next to me.

I never bought that first Vivian Girls record; that would have taken five minutes, what was I waiting for? Or finished Infinite Jest. Or played all those video games I bought that I was saving for a someday. Same for all those Kindle books. Or that box set of The Larry Sanders Show.

More and more regrets were added to the pile as it quickly grew to tower over me. Why did I always assume I had so much time? We know we are going to die some day, did it never occur to me that it my date was sooner rather than later?

I never learned to play piano. And I never forgave Kami. Or whoever it was that put my photo and phone number on 4chan. Or my father. I never even came close to forgiving my father, to becoming the kind of person who could even consider forgiving my father. Never.

There were too many regrets, soon I could barely see them all as the tower rose to break through the ceiling and beyond. Still falling, I reached out with my arm to grab the pile of regrets hoping I could catch myself. Instead my hand knocked into them, toppling the tower over.

As soon as the first regret fell from the tower I was able to let go. As the tower broke into pieces as it fell I found myself no longer regretting everything. Soon the regrets were falling like raindrops all around me but I let go of everything I never did. I forgave myself for all the things I would never do.

And once all my regrets were gone, time sped back up to normal speed and I hit the ground. There was only the briefest of moments before I was gone.

Death is surprisingly okay. I spent so much time worrying about it, dreading it coming, I never realized all the things I had been carrying around with me for all that time. And I am not saying you should be in any rush to join me, but when you get here you will find it somehow all works out.