How My Day Would Change If I knew I was dying tomorrow

I have written here about choosing a way to die. I don’t remember all that I said, except a tad bit about eating Brazilian barbecue before the inevitable. Today I heard a story about a man who had dinner with his wife, felt a burn, took an anti-acid, then heard his wife say, “I will come up later. Hope you will feel better in the morning.” When the wife came to bed, the husband was sound asleep. In the morning, she knew something was wrong. He had a fatal heart attack in the middle of the night and died suddenly at 44 years of age.

The wife then reflected on how that event impacted her. The last conversation, the last dinner, the last kiss, the last laugh… and she didn’t know it! And she concluded that this is just about the way it usually is — we don’t realize that it was the last … (fill in the blank) until after there is nothing we can do about it.

This story also made me reflect, “What if I knew that tomorrow was my last day?” I am sure it wouldn’t be a typical day and I am sure the day wouldn’t go exactly like I write below, but here are some of my thoughts…

1. I normally get up between 6:30 and 7:00, look at my wife lying next to me, thank God for the joy of looking at such beautiful face every morning when I get up, and say a quick prayer for her. But if I knew this was the last, I would linger much longer, looking at her beautiful gaze, and I would pray a more focused prayer, “May you live the rest of your life with contentment and fulfillment. May you remember the past with fondness, but embrace the future with abandonment. May you laugh hard even when you don’t have to and when you have to cry, may you cry only a little, quick enough for God dry those tears so you can see clearly the path ahead.” Then I would probably just stay there and do nothing also.

2. But if I didn’t, I would go to the bathroom, brush my teeth one last time. My Listerine tooth paste! Would I miss it? Okay, the good news is that I wouldn’t have to go to the one store in my town which still carries it. I would weigh myself. Wait, I would probably not worry about that. Once, I would look at the scale and say, “I don’t care!” I would pick a pair of jeans, maybe one of my favorite, the one with the buttons instead of a zipper. A black undershirt and a nice black and grey long-sleeve shirt would complete the attire, except for my long brown fake Italian shoes which I bought in Cambodia.

3. I would then get stuff ready downstairs. At times, when I go to work, my son is still by the computer, having been up all night. I normally say a few words to him, usually hearing only brief grunts and sighs back. But this morning it would be different. I would make him breakfast, making sure he got his boiled eggs buttered with manioc powder, a Brazilian food. I would tell him how much I love him and would encourage him to not be afraid of seeking the truth, wherever it may lead. I would be certain to let him know that I had no doubt he would love his mom and sisters no matter what and that he would certainly be loved back. I would ask him to forgive me for the times I was not there for him.

4. I would call my daughters, make arrangements to have them come to the house and tell them how incredibly proud I am of the young women they have become. I would assure them of my love. I would tell them that their mother was now their priority. I would not ask them to “take care” of her, but to make sure that she would never have any reason to doubt their love. And I would tell them that with their encouragement their brother could be a great success at whatever he chose to do.

5. If I did go to work on this day (unlikely!), I would ride my bike. Without a helmet. No, I am not trying to rush anything here… But if this is my last day on earth, I would ride free and unencumbered.

6. At staff meeting, which we have every Tuesday, I would be unusually quiet. Then, toward the end, I would make sure everybody knew how much I loved working with them and by all means I would look for a funny and borderline edgy joke to tell. Then I would say something like what Jesus said to the disciples in the upper room. “What I do now you don’t understand now, but you will understand later.”

7. On this day, I would go to our local grocery store and buy a special cut of meat called picanha. I would come home and ask my wife to marinate it. Then I would barbecue it to perfection, make Brazilian vinagrete, invite my sister, her family, and have all my family there. I would have some red Porto and listen to Brazilian popular music. Then I would let everybody know how much my life had been meaningful to me and would give them a list of all the great things God had done for me.   I would assure them that I was a happy man. (Oh yes, I would remind them not to forget to return the library materials I have that are due this week!).

After that, I would dance with my wife and swear to her my eternal love. And the rest I hope to tell you when we are both at the other side…

Ivanildo C. Trindade