I awoke in the middle of the night feeling like I was going to die. No, I wasn’t in a great deal of pain, even considering the phantom tooth-ache I’ve been battling for days.
It can be humbling to wake in the middle of the night thinking, “I’m going to die soon”. Your brain kicks into overdrive and you’re immediately awake. The darkness and cold notwithstanding, suddenly you’re making mental plans you thought you had years to put into motion.
On the heels of your sudden revelation, you think things you probably wouldn’t bother about in the light of day.
You wonder if your children know everything you want them to know. Will they understand that you did your best or will they think you were selfish and self-serving? Will they forgive you for the mistakes you invariably made or will they hold them close in their memories to the eventual exclusion of everything you got right?
You think about the things you’ve done and haven’t done and have always meant to do. You begin to reorder your priorities so if you have any time, any time at all, you’ll be able to manage the affairs you deem most important. You reevaluate everything and reestablish precedence. You calculate what you want, what you believe, what you think you need.
You think about what you’re leaving behind and where it might come to rest. Will your beloved collection go to someone who will appreciate it or to someone who will cherish it because they cherished you? Will the remnants of your life be boxed and given to charity or will your family find places in their hearts and their homes for items that meant so much to you?
And then you think of love. Will the joyous, precious love so fleetingly given you, reemerge post-mortem like a turtle reengaging the world once all threat of danger has passed? Will the love you embraced so wonderingly, so passionately and so enthusiastically be buried with your remains or will the banked embers warm your lover’s heart?
It is easy to dismiss such thoughts with the sunlight streaming through the sky, the local cardinal beating cadence on the window, a hot cup of coffee at your elbow. You think to yourself that you’re being overly dramatic, that such thoughts are crazy. Yes, everyone is going to die … someday. But in the glow of sunshine, the wondrous beauty of the world, thoughts of dying seem silly and pessimistic.
In the deep void of night, being awoken from slumber with the certainty that death is imminent does not seem ridiculous. It surfaces as a secret knowledge your body is suddenly attempting to convey, a surreptitiously passed message from subconscious to conscious like notes sent between friends at school. It is, quite literally, a wake-up call. It is the knowledge that life is finite, that our days may end sooner than desired, that death is a sneaky thief stealing time from its rightful owners.
I woke from slumber with the knowledge that I was dying. Whether that death comes today or tomorrow, it has revitalized my resolve to live like there would be no tomorrow, love like I have no ego, dance like I have no shame.
This minute, this hour, this day is mine. I will revel in the knowledge that I can make each moment count and not squander the commodity of time that bastard thief will someday steal from my coffers.
I will live like there is no tomorrow. I will dance, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow is but a whisper on the wind.