Saturday, March 7, 2009

If I Had One Day Left To Live

If I had only one day left to live I’d probably take a quiet walk in the woods, below the snow line, but above the timberline. I’d follow an old path along a living creek as it made its way over rich earth, across ancient ground, through granite rock, spilling softly out into a generous meadow. A missing piece of heaven, standing still, glistening in the early morning sun. I’d watch the light dancing on wet green moss, young blades of grass, and the new growth branches on young pine trees lining the edge of the field. I’d walk on those little fallen pinecones that congregate beneath the tallest of the trees. I’d step on them just for the sound of the crunch. I’d raise my head to find lazy clouds drifting silently, and unannounced, across a boundless expanse of azure sky. I’d listen for their wings, as birds danced on currents of air, like leaves in a light wind. I’d watch them land like feathers, on twigs as light as breath, but strong as a man whose own back bends under the weight of his brother. I’d sit by the water and watch the reflection of that same sky, with those same clouds, a mirror image of the miraculous. I’d put my head in my hands and thank God that I was fortunate enough to have had an abundance of these moments while living out my years amid the beauty of this ancient, sacred Garden. And I would feel sad for those who spent their lives inside, or captivated by the city.

Then I would dig my own grave, on the edge of the meadow, in a comfortable place, bathed partially in light, and partially in the shade. I would make it deep enough to allow my disappearance, but shallow enough that I could still see the outstretched arms of the welcoming sky.

Then I would go see my family to say my last goodbye’s. The final hugs, the last look in their eyes, the last words that I would ever speak, the last words that I would ever hear.

I’d tell my sons that they have always been my one intention, that I have loved them more than life, and that I left footprints on the ground for them in case they ever lose their way. I’d tell my grandson that if he grows up to be like his dad, or his uncle, he’d be a very good man. I‘d tell him “Be yourself grandson, but carry their goodness inside you”.
I’d tell the mother of my sons that I have always loved the part of her I find in them. I’d tell my little sister how much I’ve loved her, how she has been the pulse of my own heart, and that the loveliness of her ascension has always inspired me. I’d tell my little brother, how proud of him I have always been, and how humbled I have felt by his goodness. I’d let my parents know that I wish it had never been necessary for us to miss out on so much of each other’s lives. I would thank them for the foundation they gave me early on, and the embrace along the way. I’d tell my wife that I was found by her, and loved by her, that she was better at it than I was, but that my affection, and appreciation, for her ran as deep as the inadequacy of my love, like clean water underground, like a profound, but introverted, dream.

Then I would return again to the meadow, in the late afternoon, to the bed of earth I’d fashioned with my own hands, the final resting place for these old weathered bones. I’d lie down quietly on my weary back, face to the eternal sky, I’d close my eyes, and for the final minutes of my life, I’d listen for the wings of birds, dancing on currents of air, like leaves in a light wind.
If I had one day left to live.

What would you do?