I’ve always known that life was fragile.
When I was seven-years-old, I attempted to draft my first will. “My beanie babies went to my mom. My hot wheel collection went to my grandpa. Oh and please play the Pocahontas song at my funeral — you know, the obvious requests.”
I wasn’t sad about it. I just knew that death was a part of life. It scared me, yes, but I knew there was no escaping it. As I got older, I noticed that no one liked to discuss, let alone acknowledge, this inevitable end. In our American culture, we are obsessed with avoiding old age and death. We nip and tuck every wrinkle. We drain life savings on months of life support for those who’d rather be on the other side already. We shun our elderly and deem them useless. We’ve had it all wrong.
I want to acknowledge, out loud, that today could be my last day on Earth. I’d be lucky to someday have smile wrinkles and a sagging bosom. I’d be blessed to have achy joints and sun spots. Those are the evidence of having made it. Of having lived. Not everyone lives long enough to see a wrinkly face smiling back at them in the mirror.
If I died tomorrow, I’d want to be remembered as someone who loved. Someone who showed up. I’d want people to know that I always wanted to be better than I was the day before and that my family, both given and chosen, were my everything.
I may not have made it to Antarctica or become one of the country’s top surgeons but I’ve already had the greatest adventure of all — starting my family with my soulmate. There are still so many smiles and giggles to be had. So many bruised knees to kiss and anniversaries to be celebrated. Yes, I have a full life ahead of me. But, no, I wouldn’t be angry if tomorrow was it for I have I lived in more love and happiness these past years that most people do in an entire lifetime.
If I died tomorrow, I’d want my son to know that I will always be with him. That my love for him is not bound by this physical body. I’d want him to know that he will always be my greatest gift and that he will never be alone for my spirit will cross every universe, realm, and space to be with him.
I’d want my soulmate to know that I never knew what “home” felt like until I first held his hand. That I’ve loved him for many lifetimes and will for so many more. I’d want him to remember that We Are. I’d want him to love again. To smile again. And to know that he’s made me the happiest woman and mother.
Yes, I’m crying so many tears as I write this letter. Tears of happiness and gratitude. I write this as my baby sleeps peacefully in my arms. I’m writing this for him.
To my friends, both old and new, I’d like to thank you for everything. For loving me and laughing with me. From rolly backpacks to brace-faces to mid-twenties life crises and orange presidents — you all have been the absolute joys of my life. You’ve shaped me and made the woman I am today. You’ve been witnesses to my crazy, wonderful life and I couldn’t have asked for better.
My parents, the people who gave me the shirts off their backs and did everything they could to provide me with what they never had. My grandparents who, literally, showed me the world and showed up for me as if I were their own. My uncles, who counseled me and taught me everything they knew. My aunties, who strengthened me, humbled me, and comforted me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I’ve made many mistakes. I’ve gotten angry and I’ve hurt others when I’ve been hurt. I wish I could apologize and heal the wounds I’ve caused a thousand times over. I wish I could take back every harsh word every strewn from my mouth and bake vegan cookies for anyone I’ve caused pain. Thank you to everyone whose loved me despite my failings. You’ve shown me what unconditional love is. Because of you, I am a better human being.
If by chance, my life comes to an end tomorrow I want everyone to know that wherever I end up – I’m dancing with a smile on my face. That I am okay. That I am happy. And that I’m everything I am, because you loved me. *yes, that’s a Celine lyric.*