Tuesday, October 20, 2009
If I Died Today
Because I'm a morbid person, I sometimes wonder what I'd be unhappy with if I were to die on any given day. What would I wish I had said to people? What would I wish people had said to me? Is there anything that would really, truly bother me that I hadn't said or done in my life?
A fresh round of these thoughts was brought on this morning when I woke up. I had a dream last night - it was completely strange and nonsensical, for the most part. In my dream, I was in a large hotel on a coast somewhere, and myself and three of my friends were being executed, by my immediate family no less. We were being beheaded out on the balcony. I was the last of the four to meet my death. As I was waiting for my turn to die, I was searching frantically for my cell phone. When I found it, I dialed the number of someone I care for very much. They answered, sounding as though I had woken them up. I apologized for waking them, and started to cry as I told them that I was never going to see them again, and desperately wanted them to know how much I loved them. That phone conversation was the one part of my dream that made sense, and I woke up promptly after it.
These thoughts have crossed my mind more and more often lately, especially as the prospect of travel is looming in my life. I'm the kind of paranoid person who thinks that it's my plane that will be the one to fall out of the sky. If I wind up going to London, I was thinking of writing a letter including all the things I would want people to know if I never got a chance to tell them. I don't have any huge number of secrets, those of you who have read my blog for a while, or who know me know that I'm a fairly open person. But there are some secrets I have kept, at least from the people they involve, for one reason or another, and some that I wouldn't want to take to the grave with me.
The thing that struck me about this was the fact that I'd rather leave a letter behind than simply say these things to people before I left. Why not simply tell these people what I'm thinking and feeling now so that I don't have to worry about what would happen if it was too late? Why not tell my father about the time I stole his car, or that as it turns out, I have been drinking before my 21st birthday, and I can hold my liquor better than he thinks? Why not tell my mom that I want nothing more than to be her when I grow up, minus the three kids? Why not tell all my friends what I really think of them, good or bad? Why not tell That Man that I am hopelessly in love with him, and love him more intensely than I've ever loved another person?
By the time I reached the last question, I had already realized the answer. I am afraid. I am afraid of the consequences of sharing these secrets. I want my mom to know how much I admire her, but I fear what she'd think of me if she knew that despite all the schooling she and my father have put me through, I think I'd be perfectly happy as a housewife. I want my father to be able to laugh at the fact that I stole his car, or tell me something that would help my occasionally improper use of alcohol, but I fear losing his trust. I want That Man to know that he is loved, deeply and completely, for everything that he is, but I fear him walking away if I were so blunt. I want my friends to know that I love them, or that I hate them, or that I can't stand their boyfriend, or that I think they're making a huge mistake, or that I think they're wasting their lives, or that I think they are impossibly talented, or that they're doing something they shouldn't, or not doing something they should, but I fear how they would react to hearing such things.
It's easiest to say these things when we have nothing to lose.
*Photos were screencapped from the trailer for the new Post Secret book, Post Secret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God by Frank Warren.
If you died today, what would you wish you had said to other people? What would you wish other people had said to you? What would be the biggest regret you'd have over something you'd done? What about over something you hadn't done?