These are the days that must happen to you. -Walt Whitman

It took a silly brush with death to realize I was alive.  You know how it is in the movies when the angel of death tells the heroine she’s dying in 3 days?  The heroine then carries on, to carpe diem her last few days on earth. Well, it doesn’t really happen like that. 

Here’s what I snatched from Death Day and the morning after:

1.  You carry on with the ordinary, middle-of-the-road everyday. And yet because “what if I die today” hangs about, the changing hours jolt you. And so you make kissing goodbye more deliberate.  And so you’re mindful of last words and the poem you last wrote on the magnetic board. And you’re alive to the hours of the lone day you have left, wanting the hours to truly happen to you.

2.  You stop agonizing over things half-done and unfinished.  There’s just no time anymore.  And so instead, you thank the earth for all those dips in the ocean, the many times you’ve shriveled up on salt air, that you’ve seen the sky paint itself orange, purple and pink, and that you know how wet in the rain feels like.  

3.  You bask in the exploits of having been giddy about someone or something, or recklessly in love, and take glory in the experience of being quite bold about love, Even be relieved you sang falsettos or danced silly with the radio on so loud.

4.  You only remember the twirls, skips and moves you’ve made up with your kids, hugs and kisses, and the misspelled notes with drawings of dragonflies, a dress and a crown.

5. You muse on what to bequeath everyone and then realize it doesn’t matter, as your life should have done that already.

6.  Somehow, there are no sorries to pay or collect.  Still you wish to leave notes and tell people you adore them.  And it already feels like hell if you had words to say and yet couldn’t. 

7.  You’re pleased that you wore out those shoes, lighted the candles, opened the expensive bottle, and always used the silver.  And yet you regret not having read more books or poetry, or lament having not enough wine, dark chocolate or ocean.

8.  You consider throwing out bucket lists and five-year plans.  You don’t want to be living in between anymore, waiting, in the gray, or waiting for Wednesday.   

9.  You begin to trust the things that have happened, the connections you have made. As though your life story has been fine-tuned in some way. You only hope to remember why you made it so.  We are not on some unintelligible journey, fulfilling a life that’s fragmented from the rest. And so you rejoice at every booboo, glad for the shadows or the monsters under the bed. 

10. You realize it is futile, waiting for life to happen. Pointless to wonder whether you got it right, or that you’ve had too little or too much. This, whatever it is you have now, this is all the life you really have.  And if you have played it right, the hours are enough.

11.  Finally, you pin your hopes on leaving a dent somewhere, somehow, and that yours was a story to tell. 

It’s a few days after D-Day.  Death didn’t come. Life did. Honestly, I didn’t want to slip away, yet. But we live everyday with the dark angel hanging about anyway. And I suppose, the changing hours should jolt us to attention.  And goodbyes, the words we say, and the things we leave, should always be done with deliberate intention.  So, rather than live life in between waiting, or at full tilt, let every hour happen to you. 

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