If I knew I was going to die 279 days from now, I wouldn’t go skydiving. I wouldn’t quit my job and head to the casinos of Vegas or the beaches of Fiji. No, I would stay on my current path. No yolo for me, or bucket list to cross off. I’d want things to stay the same.
Yeah, sure I would be a bit more brazen if death was that certain. I wouldn’t think twice about swimming so far out into the ocean that I could barely see the shore; escaping a riptide would become an unadulterated thrill. Yeah, I would spend a bit more money on absurd things like matching cashmere socks and underwear and fancy food and expensive bottles of wine, but I wouldn’t go crazy.
Oh, and you know what else — I would be more rude honestly, which sounds bad, but if time was really running out I would tell someone to shut up if they were wasting my time, or being petty. Likewise, I’d also be nicer to those who have been so bright and good to me.
…So the final test came back today… And it is that bad… Worse than expected, really.
I guess, now that’s it’s a reality there is something else I would do. I mean, I guess, I will do. I won’t tell anyone I am dying. My dying wish is just to live for a bit longer as if everything is still fine. I want to live among the living, not be a dying person among living people.
Because mostly I just want to spend my last days here like I spent all the days before the diagnosis. Because life is too short to worry about the extraordinary when we have each other; this is all I need, all I want. Those I love, those I call friends, those I call colleagues — I just want a few more moments of normalcy with you. I want to bathe one last month, hopefully several more months, in the simple gifts of our daily co-existence.
I want to be afforded a few more weeks of watching you make breakfast, unworried, and go about your day. I want the great privilege of kissing you without my departure on your mind or your lips; I don’t want you kissing a ghost. I don’t want to weigh down my friends, because selfishly I want them to be as carefree as ever because that’s why I loved them in the first place. I don’t want my colleagues to treat me differently, I want to do the same good work we always do. I want to talk with my parents for hours as their son in bloom, not as a gravestone. Please just give me enough time to cherish the most basic things before they are taken from me.
And while this life was too short, I was ultimately so blessed. Thank you. I don’t know who I’m writing this to, who I am thanking, but thank you for giving me all that I had. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
It’s almost impossible to hide now.
Today we drove for a few hours outside of the city to a small rural town. We ate at a diner. The food was pretty bad. We walked around and as we sat down on a bench, I told you what was happening to me… But you already knew… Of course you knew. And of course you pretended you didn’t know for me, because you love me and you knew that was what I wanted. You did that for me, even though I promised you a wedding and will give you a funeral instead. But you were strong and generous for me. I love you and I’m so sorry I’m going to have to leave you. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I can write this a thousand times and I know it won’t be enough. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
And when I called my parents they thought it was some kind of practical joke, and every time I said, “No, no, I’m sorry, listen I’m not kidding” I could hear the news killing them, literally sucking the few years they had left right out of them. When they picked up the phone, they were batteries charged 30% and by the time we hung up they were 10%. And I’m sorry a million times more for dying before you. I’m so sorry. God you don’t know how sorry I am, and yet how grateful and thankful I am at the same time. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I’m sorry and thank you. These are the only words that mean anything when you are dying. Once you tear it all away, get to the core of what your life meant, all that is left is gratitude and apologies.
And now the coughing won’t stop and the pain is too much and I can’t even stand without my whole spine feeling like it’s being impaled by a thousand poisonous knives and everyone is staring at me with such pity and the drugs are making me disappear and I can’t even recognize myself in the mirror and I’m too weak to say “thank you” though I do know my eyes are saying “I’m sorry” and I can’t even remember what it once felt like to have a life ahead of you, to not be dying, and the nausea, the nausea, and tonight I’m dreaming that it’s already tomorrow and I’m waking up next to you, getting ready for work, the sun streaming in through the window, and you kiss me goodbye as I head out the door, but it’s like someone turned off a switch and the dream flickers off and I’m expecting to wake up in the hospital bed but as the dream fades it becomes as clear as translucent white that I will never wake up again.