What Would I Be Remembered For If I Were To Die Today?
“I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Our friend XXXX passed away from a heart attack in Japan on x December. His body will be back in Singapore tomorrow and the wake will be held…”
I got this message on my phone yesterday morning. At first, I dismissed it as “you got the wrong person” message. While I did know someone with the same name, I didn’t think it would be him. One, I didn’t recognize the number. Two, the person I knew was just a year older than me; surely this was too soon.
Two hours later, at spinning, another message appeared on my phone, this time bearing details of the wake. I decided to check with other friends if this was true. When one replied to confirm the news, I felt as if I’d been punched in the chest.
While it is true that a person had been taken away from his family too soon, I felt that loss just as poignantly because I couldn’t help but also think, “What if it had been me?”
I’ve always taken Death very badly. I hate the idea of a life cut short. I hate the idea of how our potential is tempered by the unpredictability of mortality. When my husband asked me, jokingly, if I believed in an after-life, I said no, because I am never going to die. And I wasn’t joking.
I get annoyed with shows and novels where the immortal protagonist bitches about his everlasting life because I would do anything to not die and not grow old. Yep, including watching my loved ones die before me, being alone for all eternity, and selling the souls of everybody I know.
I don’t like to think about Death, especially mine, because I don’t think I’ve done or accomplished anything that could be considered a great legacy. How would I be remembered? “Daughter, sister, and wife”?
But when I think about how I would like to be remembered, the truth is, I come up empty.
Do I have a spectacular career? Unless it involved millions of people knowing who I am and what I do for a living, I would say No.
Have I done anything to change people’s lives? Unless I invented a vaccine or fixed world hunger, again it’s a No.
Have I created anything that would appreciate in value after I die? I don’t paint and I don’t compose, so that’s a sure No.
I have neither the emotional strength nor the spiritual generosity to commit to acts of monumental selflessness. In other words, I will not give up my worldly possessions to live amongst orphans or feed the hungry. But do I have to do this in order to claim that I am living a life bigger than myself?
It seems painfully tragic that so many of us are put on this planet and are destined to live out our short lives with absolutely no grand plan attached to our reason for being.
I don’t have an epiphany; I have no answer (not yet) as to how I can lay out a plan to live better so I can die well.
I would like to make the promise that I will make more of my life from now on but I’m too much of a procrastinator, too much of a coward to take that step towards living a fuller life. Years of focusing on chasing titles and getting comfortable materially have also silenced the inner voice that tells me what my passions and dreams are. I have no big dreams because I don’t know how to dream big.
And I don’t dream big because I’m too damn scared I’d not be able to reach it.
46 down, 17 to go