An Hour To Die
An hour to live wouldn’t be that bad, honestly. I know that sounds silly, stupid even, but it’s true. Knowing you’re going to die is a beautiful thing because you can prepare yourself and others.
I wouldn’t tell anyone I was going to die. That would defeat the purpose of it. Death is something that sneaks up on you and pounces without a warnings notice and yet, I know that I have exactly one hour to live.
I want time to fly.
The first thing I would do is probably cry. There are some things I really love, things I will miss but I know won’t miss me. It would take me several moments to process the information; maybe it’ll take up all of my time. I don’t know. I’ve never died before.
I would then go to my room, put on my all-time favorite songs, and then curl up in bed. My bed is my safe space, in case you didn’t know. I feel calm and loved when I’m on it, comforted by what it has to offer—sleep.
Sleep is a free trial of not existing. It pauses reality for as long as you remain in that state. And it’s peaceful. When I was younger, I used to think that death was constantly painful like a wound that never heals. Now, I realize that death is just another step in life.
As time ticks down closer and closer to the minute I leave this life, I think I would start to regret my decisions. As much as life sucks, there is still joy I find in it, whether it be here or there, in this or that. Life does have meaning but it’s too late for me.
Maybe I would jump out of bed and run downstairs with a new found energy and explain to my family what was happening and tell them I love them. I would tell them not to cry too much over me, just to move on and live life.
Or maybe I would stay in bed, watching the second hand of the clock tick down, each breathe entering and leaving my lungs like the people in my life. Maybe someone will enter my room but they won’t question what I’m doing. After all, it’s nothing out of the ordinary.
They’ll probably slam the door, obeying me after so many incidents of me yelling at them to not leave it open, and maybe they’ll calm me a few choice words.
That’s fine. I’m okay with it.
I’m willing to be the subject of their anger one last time.
A tear will roll down my face. There’s no maybe involved this time; I know it will happen. I’ll curl up on my side, facing the wall and attempting to take one last deep breath as darkness washes over me.
I’ll finally have the sweet release of death, but all the dreams that died before me will have long since gone to the afterlife and I will be left to wander, nothing more than a last soul that died too soon.
That’s what it has come down to. 3600 seconds to sort out the last vestiges of my life. Putting my life away in a box to be shipped off to a relative, the only one I trust enough to do something with all this. Thank god he’s a writer. With him, hopefully, my life’s work may just one day mean something to someone.
2700 seconds left.
What is there left to do? Nothing, really except sit outside on my lawn chair and gaze at the clouds as they go by and feel the sun beat down on me. Let it burn my skin, seep into my pores. That way, in a way, I can say I have died taking part of the universe with me, as odd as that may sound.
2000 seconds left.
Who should I call one last time? There is no one special in my life and why call anyway? I don’t want to hear the tears of another grieve for me. I’ll just sit here, soak in the sun, drink the last of my drink before my eyes close for good. If I were younger, maybe I would fight to hold on, but I have lived my life, so I’ll just let it go. I haven’t a choice anyway.
Time moves at blinding speed but we never think about the seconds, only the moment we are placed in. I have to say, I wish I had more seconds. Nah, they would only go by just as fast, and I don’t need any last second concerns.
Fed-Ex is here to pick up the stuff to be delivered to my brother. I sign the receipt for pickup and watch him leave. I feel better knowing that’s done. Now I can stretch out and ... wait.
They will go by faster now since zero will arrive quickly. Guess this is where I say, “Goodbye world, nice knowing you. Sorry we couldn’t be kinder to you. Maybe in my next life I can do something to....”
There was a loud knock at the door at 8:59 p.m.
"Ma! Someone's at the door!"
"If I told you once Rodney, I've told you a gazillion times. Do not interrupt me when I'm watching the Real Housewives of New Jersey."
"But Ma. You told me to go to bed and you also told me a gazillion times not to answer the door and someone is definitely at the door. And by the way. You also forgot to kiss me goodnight."
"Don't worry about it Rodney. Whoever it is, they will go away. My show is about to start and you know the DVR is broken. Go to sleep Rodney. I told you not to bother me now and you are really bothering me. That's enough! I'll kiss you twice in the morning, okay?"
Her tired feet were up, her day was done, a bowl of popcorn and a diet pepsi on ice sat right beside her and while she watched the crazy bitches ripping each other's hair out, if she only knew, hourglass in hand, the Grim Reaper sat comfortably on her porch swing waiting for the last grain of sand to fall so he could collect her soul, would it matter?
One minute more
An hour to live.
I look at all the books on my shelves that I never got around to reading. Any one could have been my all-time favorite. I look at those I did read and try to remember storylines, main characters, themes. It is difficult, I’ve forgotten so much that I question the value of the time I spent reading them. This takes five minutes. Fifty-five minutes to live.
I go to the pantry and look at all the cans of food I never got around to eating. I check a few nutrition labels. All that fat, all that salt, all that sugar I could’ve ingested. I check a few expiration dates - several have had their last hours yet they persist entombed in aluminum, maybe still edible, maybe not - Schroedinger’s cans. This takes eight minutes.
Forty-seven minutes to live.
I go to the living room, flip on the television. I check the DVR - all the shows I never got around to watch. All these are programs that I once believed worth watching. A fourteen part Ken Burns document. Sorry, Ken. Half a season of Modern Family, after they started phoning it in. Meh - should have erased that a while ago. The CNN docuseries on the Royal Family. Oops. This takes seven minutes. Forty minutes left to live.
I pick up my phone and open Photos. There are more than three thousand photos on my phone, most of which I haven’t looked at, unless you count taking them, which I don’t. I wonder what I thought I’d ever do with them - make an album? Show them to the grandkids? (Gotta have kids to have grandkids.) Many of the photos were taken in bursts, meaning that there are like dozens of nearly the same shot, perhaps none of them good. Didn’t cost anything to take too many photos, not even time. This takes twelve minutes. Twenty-eight minutes left to live.
I go to the attic. It’s full of boxes. The boxes are full of things I once cared about - clothes, comic books, that wetsuit I bought to compete in a triathlon. Didn’t need it, the water temp was high enough that wetsuits weren’t allowed in the competition. Wonder if it fits? I could wear it now, but I don’t put it on. I’m not cool enough to die in a wetsuit. This takes ten minutes. Eighteen minutes left to live.
I go out on the terrace and look at the trees. They sway gently, the leaves shimmy creating a white noise that blocks out the highway and the cacophony of my thoughts. I seek calm. I seek peace. It takes a while but I find it. It lasts for a few seconds, then gives way to reality. I start to cry. This takes eleven minutes. Seven minutes left to live.
I go to the garage. The device is all prepared to operate. I take a few final breaths. I’ve always enjoyed the smell of the garage - moldy, gassy, oily, greater than the sum of its parts. Three minutes left to live.
I climb into the device. It’s suppose to take three minutes to work. I hesitate when closing the lid. In that moment I wish my life didn’t have to end. I think, there’s so much more I had to do. I want more time. But then I remember how I spent the last fifty-seven minutes and decide that I’d have just wasted that time too. I relax. I put my head down and wonder how the device works. Then I die. This takes four minutes.
is never promised
and to live
but to breathe —
just for once
ever so peacefully,
is a gift
I won't trade
The End is the Beginning
I see it in the distance hovering in wait – death’s sword unsheathed since my life has outworn its scabbard. I feel leaden as the spectacle of my life parades in the background. My breath dodges in a wild dance, trying to escape the cessation of life as the curtains of darkness descend. I try to grasp the seconds ticking in a increasing tempo as my life is counted off – tick, tock, tick tock. I am not ready to go, I wail in a crescendo of need, longing to have more time.
The countdown of time rushes in a downward spiral like tornadic gusts of wind. But wait! What is that auroral light in the distance beckoning me onward through a tunnel of overwhelming promise? What shadowy figures are waiting to greet me on the other side? Is that my mother and father with beatific smiles on their faces and outstretched arms?
I smile as I beseech, “Let me dance,” as I realize that the end is just the beginning.
In My Hour of Dying...
I will not count down the minutes.
No. I will roll off of her, and playfully slap her bare bottom.
I might even light a smoke. A cigarette used to be good afterwards, back in the old days, the nicotine soothing after the vastly increased heart rate. Besides, why the hell not?
I will definitely sip whiskey, a good bourbon that tingles sweet and smoky like root beer against the tip of my tongue. I will close my eyes as it spreads its familiar fire, flushing my heart and belly with warmth while it slowly leaches through me. But mostly, I bid the toxins come to soothe unsteady nerves.
I will tug into my boots, so that I might die as I lived, tooth and nail.
I will go outside. I will invite The End to meet me beneath the sun, or the stars. As The End chose the time, I shall choose the place.
I will lean my back hard against the rough bark of an oak tree and scratch a dog’s ears. Those ears will be soft, like velvet in my stiffening fingers.
I will look back with fading sight on a life well lived, thankful for those who shared the journey, who helped along the way, and who gave it purpose.
I will recall a line from Shakespeare...
“Golden lads and girls all must,
as chimney-sweepers, come to dust.”
... and I will consider what was written, what the letters and the spaces between them force us to consider; that in the end we are all equal, regardless of station, that we all quiver beneath the wonder of it all, and at what lies ahead.
Finally, I will reach into the back pocket of my jeans for the tattered paperback that is there. I will read a few stained, and yellowed paragraphs. I will find some little bit of comfort in it’s familiar words before marking my place with another folded down corner.
And then, like the untold number of “golden lads,” and “chimney-sweepers” before me, I will lay back my head, relax, and let go of my weary body.
“I too shall come to dust.”
This isn’t the end
one hour is not enough
this life is not enough
I need more time
I never want to stop living
so much to experience
so many places to go
so many feelings to feel.
(one hour is not enough)
I want more time
not because I wasted my life
because I haven't wasted my life
so I know
just how beautiful life is.
(one hour is not enough)
There is so much to live for...
and yet I have to die
even though I see nothing good
to come from it.
but maybe that's the point.
maybe this blindness
can allow for more
maybe we are like a butterfly
born as a caripillar
to die and be reborn as something beautiful.
or like a flower
basking in the sunshine of life
and dying with the waking of winter.
but as the petals sink into the earth
new life sprouts from fresh soil.
im not shaking
this awe-filled life
(one hour is all i need)
The Eleventh Hour
Before I die, I always dreamt of skydiving. Yet, minutes turned to hours, hours to days, and days to years—I still never get around pursuing that one desire I thought could complete me as a whole. Now, I’m a balding middle-aged man with grey hair and wrinkled face, who has spent his entire life shying away from everything, buried in the pitiful piles of life’s rubbish dramas, suddenly I wake up to find out my last breath won’t last more than an hour; if I had committed a fraction of a second and tried it, at least that adventure could spice the quiet story of my life, a small legacy worth mentioning in my eulogy, something I could leave behind to be remembered by. Sadly, the dark day we all fear is here now, leering into my weary eyes on the eleventh hour, the final flight for departure. Before I give in to the inevitable nightfall, today, on this eleventh hour, I’m going to live freely, free-falling from the sky.
The end is quickly closing on me, and that is quite unfortunate. I feel like I am dancing between a shark’s jaws. I am not scared of death, only dying without any purpose; that my friend is such a miserable and terrible feeling any person should ever feel on their last day on earth. When I die, I want to smile not cry; I already cried the day I came to this world. The tears I shed then should bathe all the fears that lie beyond.
Now, I am going to pack the one gear at my disposal, my courage. I am going to touch the shooting stars and glistening moon, and then jump off from the vast open sky. By the time I hit the ground, I won’t feel any pain, but I can at least say that I fulfilled my dream. When the sinister knight comes riding a horse, dressed in a white wardrobe, holding a razor-sharp sword, I will meet it clinging to my happy sword tightly, smiling fearlessly before I lay down my head on the dirty.
For realizing my fantasy, I can let my heart pulsate. Finally, I will take a deep breath and let go of everything, inhaling the breezy Autumn air, as I close my eyes before the darkness turns off the lights forever, whispering “Goodnight, and sleep tight,” into my deaf ears.
Open Mic Scream, Redux
In my lifetime I have seen people come and go
and I want to embrace them all
in Times New Roman font, a nod
to my education, a final farewell in my last hour
while going back to relive just one moment, when
my creative writing professor
told us that to pass her class we needed
to read a single poem out loud,
at a public speaking event in which
I was at that bar downtown and
my lips shook reading my last few lines
at the open mic, screaming internally
without making a single dent
in the oncoming silence
a testament to my spiraling inner monologue
in my last hour, between a dusk and dawn
not willing to leave the earth
without a nod from the audience
I get up, grab a microphone one last time
and speak my truth, though my voice
shakes, eager to get the A