“The fact of death is unsettling. Yet there is no other way to live.”
― Paul Kalanithi,
This summer, my uncle passed away unexpectedly. My grandfather deteriorated pretty quickly the winter just after that. I binged 13 Reasons Why and then I let seven invasive and revealing podcast episodes of S-Town invade my psyche. Last week a 24 year old Peace Corps Volunteer died in an accident in Panama. A couple days ago, I heard that an acquaintance I spent time with in Haiti took her own life. Sunday, I went to a funeral with my Thai host family to lay an 84 year old mother and her 55 year old son to rest after a tragic motorcycle accident.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about death.
If I died tomorrow, there is one thing I hope you all could do for me. I’d want to be cremated and laid to rest in the places my friends have yet to find. If you’d indulge a living girls dying wish for a second, I’ll elaborate. We get an unknown number of days on this earth, but that isn’t what I wake up every day thinking. Lately, I wake up thinking: ‘If I have to live out of this suitcase for one more day I might cry.’ I don’t wake up thinking: ‘Today could be my last day on Earth, how do I want to spend it?’ Inevitably, our lives are lived in the mundane duties of surviving one day at a time. And I happen to think that’s ok. To live in constant fear of death would be paralyzing. Except…when death does come to someone whose life was intertwined with yours, it is unsettling.
Which brings me back to the me that will one day be ashes. In my death, I would want my friends and family to be reminded to live. Dole my ashes out in ziplock baggies and give a small piece of me to any friend willing to fulfill one simple requirement: take me somewhere you’ve never been, but have always wanted to go. Take me on that trip that you just never found the time to make. Use me as your excuse to deplete all your vacation days.
Because the thing is, as I’ve watched a lot of death recently, I’ve been more inspired to live. So if my death could result in one or two friends deciding that life’s too short not to go, and see, and do; I think that would be a pretty good way to say goodbye to this Earth.
You never know what tomorrow may bring, but I do know that I appreciate you all and I am grateful for each day our time overlaps on this Earth. Rest assured, the best is yet to come.