Goofing around is not only about having fun but about feeling free to harness your ability to contemplate, express, define, and show–focusing these writing skills on the search for meaning.  Recent events have me thinking about death.  If you know, let’s say, when you will die—what do you do with your days?    I’d rather not discuss this in terms of religious beliefs or the afterlife, but in more practical terms that relate to the choices you face each day, the parts of your life over which you have some control.  You are going to die in six months.  What do you do today, next week, in July? 

72 responses to “GA-12

  1. Week one: Cry, snivel, whine, wonder why I have been so cursed. Cuss a lot. Sleep a lot to blot out facing the inevitable.

  2. I like the “week one” idea. It suggests an unfolding strategy. There is something hopeful about that, in spite of the irreversible verdict.

  3. April: Divorce wife so she’s not liable for my debt. Establish separate addresses. Collect all credit cards that are pre-approved. Take out biggest loan that I am approved for.

    May: Go to Tahiti. Have ex-wife follow later. Find house/hut on beach. Live the life of a king.

    June: Make love to ex-wife every night on the beach. Drink martini’s, shaken not stirred, on the beach during the day. Eat from a pig cooked in a pit on the beach and fruit from the surrounding area.

    July: When the feeling my last day is coming, board a raft and set sail to sea. As captain of my vessel, I will go down with the ship.

    August: Ex-wife receives notice from doctor that the cat-scan was mis-read and that nothing is wrong with me.

  4. GA-12 made me think of the ultimate motivation exercise in BWW’s Lesson 9 (well, except for that pesky irreversible part).

    I’m contemplating how my new blog (one of the steps to achieving the goal I committed to in Lesson 9) would evolve as ‘6 months from now’ becomes reality.

  5. Week one: Cry, snivel, whine, wonder why I have been so cursed. Cuss a lot. Sleep a lot to blot out facing the inevitable.

    Gully, this sounds basically how I live already! LOL!

  6. Savor every moment. Sleep with the windows open, listening to the peeptoads trilling their spring song. Blast Cat Stevens music and sing along loudly. Add “I love you” to every good bye. Throw in a hug for good measure. Tell people “I’m glad you called. It was nice talking to you!” and mean it. Write notes to people who have made my life better, letting them know about it. Swim in the ocean. Soak in the tub. Sing in the shower. Snuggle with my cat. Snuggle with my kids. Let the giggles take over. Sit by a campfire. Drink a little. Laugh a lot. Make apple pie, and eat it with ice cream. Kiss my children while they sleep. Snuggle in bed with my warm husband. Savor every moment.

  7. Week Two: sulk. Think about just getting it over with.

  8. I would write each one of my children a handwritten letter, telling them how grand they are and how much I love them. And I would try to teach them how to handle grief. How not to feel guilty if they happen to laugh or go through one whole day without crying when I’m gone. That I know they love me and how I want them to live life joyous and fulfilled, and not to spend too long grieving. I want them to understand that grief is inevitable but that they can and will learn to cope.

    I will take each child (all are grown now) one by one on a week long trip. We would spend all our time together, doing anything we want. And we’d talk about everything.

    I would take all my children on a trip together and do the same as above but we would make memories all together. That way, they could all have a grand time talking and laughing about our last trip together.

    I would spend as much time with my granddaughter as I could. I would write a “Once Upon A Time” book about me and her so she won’t forget me. I will tell her what a light in my life she’s been.

    I would give my malamutes a good warm soapy bath and blow dry, no matter how much they protest. I would take each one of them for a long walk. I wouldn’t yell out the window for them to hush their “woo-wooing” in the middle of the night when a siren starts up. I would just lie there and listen to them sing.

    I would write every single day. My thoughts. My feelings. My fears. My joys. My pain.

    I would have you all meet me at the Secret Beach. We would build a huge bonfire by the ocean. We would sing all the old folk songs from the ’60’s. (you young uns would have to just hum along). We would laugh and talk memories of BWW and how it changed our lives. I would tell each and every one of you how very much you mean to me. How I consider you all to be my best friends. And how unique and gifted you all are. After our time at the beach, every night thereafter, I would watch the stars at night and think of you. Bright, shining, twinkling stars.

    I would consider my life and use my time left more wisely. More loving. More thoughtful. More forgiving. And I would drink all the coffee I wanted. Oh, never mind. I do that now.

    (Sorry I wound up writing so much, I kinda got carried away. But I meant every word of it. I’ve been right slack participating here lately so I guess this catches me up, right?)

  9. Buy a Ferrari and drive fast across the country and back. Stack the tickets up in a cigar box, after all what are they going to do, take my license away? At the end of the trip I’d give the car to the first person who told me how good I looked in it. I’d then buy twenty good books and curl up next to the fireplace. I’d then take my laptop and write, “What it feels like to know you’re dying” of course it would be full of my “corny” demented humor. I’d then shave my head, put on some white robes, get some bells and go run around the airport.

  10. Week three: get second, third and fourth opinions. Get drunk on the fifth day.

  11. You guys have gfot to check out the Elder Storytelling Place today. There’s a little something there (no pun intended) about a wake.

  12. Week four: Eat Moose Tracks ice cream to ease the hangover. Think about what to do the next few months. Eat more Moose Tracks ice cream. Decide I’m going to the places I’ve always wanted to see. Read “1,000 Place to See before You Die” while eating Moose Tracks ice cream.

    Make a list of places. Eat more Moose Tracks ice cream. Choose the first place and check for tickets online. Eat Moose Tracks to celebrate.

    Finish the rest of the Moose Tracks. Heck, I’m going to be cremated so I don’t have to worry about fitting in a casket. Go to store for more Moose Tracks, and pick up a plastic spoon from the salad bar so I can eat Moose Tracks on the drive home.

  13. I’m having a hard time with this. Initially, I jotted down a pretty long list of things I thought I’d do. Since then, I’ve been rethinking Ann’s writing idea and my first list. Honestly, I can’t figure out what I’d really do. I don’t think I’d be as upbeat as I first imagined I’d be. Let me work on this some more and you’ll be the first to know if I’m able to come up with what I believe I would be actually do.

    If that doesn’t happen, I’ll just let loose with some lighthearted plans.

  14. Throw up from all the Moose Tracks ice cream….or is that REALLY the reason? Do I now have stomach cancer? Cancer of the esophagus? What if I’ve got leukemia? Wouldn’t that explain the lack of energy? Maybe it’s Asperger’s. Yeah, Asperger’s/ That’s why I’ve been so snippy lately. Wait. Is Asperger’s fatal? I don’t think it is. What have I done to my arteeries, eating all that rich ice cream? DO I care anymore? Or do I want more Moose Tracks?

    I really should get myself together and make some kind of plan. I’ll just have a little dish of Moose Tracks and think about it.

    Oh, heck, just eat out of the carton. Who can make serious plans while eating ice cream?

    Well, I finished that carton. Too late to go to the store for more. Or, are they on their summer hours yet? Are they open all night? Oh, God, I hope they’re open all night. I can’t get through this without Moose Tracks. I can’t, I can’t, I really can’t.

  15. Shaddy, I can’t really answer this honestly, either, since I have two young children… leaving them would be anguish. So I just took that whole concept out of the equation, and went with the “live each day as though it could be your last” idea.
    (because we never kn0w, right?)

  16. I’ll tell you what I don’t like about this exercise. Most people, faced with this situation, are already feeling very sick. Maybe too sick to enjoy the sun, write letters to their grandkids, or do much of anything but lie there hoping for sleep. Most of us don’t have the option of finally trying bungee jumping, visiting Belize, dancing in the rain.
    If there is something you long to do, if there is someone you need to apologize to, if there is some thing in your life that needs to be dealt with, take care of it now.

  17. This is the list I wrote immediately after reading the GA-12 writing prompt.

    1. Quit work?

    2. Write letters to people who have touched my life.

    3. Say I love you whenever I can.

    4. Treasure each moment.

    5. Let go of anxiety.

    6. Watch nature.

    7. Appreciate everyone.

    8. Read scripture and pray more.

    9. Smell flowers, falling rain and freshly turned earth.

    10. Cry and laugh whenever possible.

    11. Give my possessions to the people I want to have them.

    12. Take nice and easy walks and bike rides.

    13. Pause and just be.

    14. Blah, blah, blah.

    After giving GA-12 some more thought, I’ve concluded that this is a more realistic list considering what I know about myself.

    If I’m going to die in six months:

    1. I’ll pick my nose whenever someone’s looking.

    2. I’ll stop showering and caring about how I look.

    3. I’ll throw breakable things violently until there are none left.

    4. I’ll cram small things I hate into the mailbox.

    5. I’ll send nasty notes to people who’ve messed with me in the past. I’ll say all the things I dislike about them.

    6. I’ll kick big holes in the walls and throw all my possessions into the yard.

    (I’ll continue working at the dental office for two or three days for the “fun” of it. Read on).

    7. People who repeatedly break appointments will all be scheduled on a day when I know the doctor won’t be in. I’ll post a sign on the locked door that says, “Please sit in your car for an hour waiting for Dr. O to decide if he wants to see you today.”

    8. I’ll regret all the nice things I’ve done for others.

    9. I’ll argue with everybody who tries to talk to me.

    10. I’ll say exactly what I feel like and won’t give it a second thought.

    11. I’ll rejoice that I never got around to taking anger management classes.

  18. Week five. Get a grip. Talk with long-time friends and confidants, the ones who really matter. Tell them how much they mean to me. Thank them for being in my life.

  19. Week six: talk with friends who are strong religious believers. Ask the unanswerable question: is there or isn’t there?

    Come to terms. I’ve already wasted a month and a half throwing a tantrum and a pity party.

  20. Good grief!

    I apologize for my nasty list in my previous e-mail. I had worked myself into quite a miserable state of mind this morning.

    I certainly would NOT do the things I said I would do. Mean thoughts might enter my mind, but with no intentions of acting on them. Honestly, no. That’s not me.

    It sickens me that I submitted them even if I assumed you would all know that I was just venting as I imagine I would if given notice I had six months to live.

    At sixty, I should know enough to wait to press the submit button until I’m in my “right mind.” Whatever that is.

    Please accept my wish to rescind the “realistic” list on my previous submission. I want my twisted halo back.

  21. Shaddy,

    At a certain point in the journey to acceptance, we would all deserve a twisted halo…and worse. I think your list is more representative of how humans THINK they would react to news of impending death. Whether or not they would follow through on such threats is impossible to know, but I think we would all think them, or variations of them.

    I for one know I would rage, rage against the dying light. I would “not go softly into that good night.” When all my rages are over, when the eyes are sore and devoid of tears, then would I consider a softer, quieter legacy. When acceptance comes at last, I would make my peace with the inevitable. And at the community hall in my small town, when people gather to celebrate my life rather than my death, I request only thing: that during a few moments of silence one song be played: Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong singing, “It’s a Wonderful World.”

    No reason for you to beg the moving pen to erase what you have written. You were being honest. You may have revealed more than you are comfortable with, but we have your back here.

    In all of this, us thinking about what we would do, should do, could do, is an underlying question: do we really want to know when? I remember holding the hand of friend who was dying. He looked at me and said, “It’s nice to know when.”

    I wonder. Would we want to go through the things we have written here? Would we want to have our affairs in order? Or, would we rather just be surprised by the whole thing, and not have to clean up after ourselves?

    Interesting exercise, this GA-12.

  22. I paraphrased Dylan Thomas, because I tried to remember his owrk from memory. The correct quotes are:

    “rage, rage against the dying of the light” and
    do not go gentle into that good night”

  23. I’d like to think I’d do something that would change someone’s life so dramatically that they would pass my memory on to the next generation. Touching someone who is without friends or family. Someone homeless. Some outcast with aides whose family has rejected. The preganant teen who feels alone with the weight of the world on her back. Or how about the illegal worker that’s here and hiding under the radar.

    The sad thing is, that’s what I should be doing now. So if nothing else, this exercise has taught me about me. What is my motivation? Maybe I need to take some of the wants of self out and replace it with the needs others.

    To quote a song as Gully did, “If I’m laden at all, I’m ladened with sadness that everyone’s heart isn’t filled with the gladness of love, for one another.” A paraphrased from “He’s ain’t heavey, He’s my brother.”

  24. More thoughts on leaving here:

    I guess I better start cleaning out closets, drawers, under the bed, cardboard boxes, etc. You know, stuff I planned to use someday….

    I probably should clean the house.

    Get rid of the ’80’s clothes that’s been hanging in the back closet since, well let’s see, the 80’s. Wonder if I could use those shoulder pads for anything?

    Go to the bookstore and buy that book, oh what is it, something like “How To Write A Novel In 28 Days”. I am pushed for time, you know.

    I’m thinking about my “song” for the service. Well, there’s this one–an old Joni Mitchell song, “The Urge For Going”. (I know, go ahead and laugh at the pun) It actually has been sung by several artists. The lyrics are perfect and beautiful and they can send me to all kinds of places in my heart. Oh yeah, I believe I’ll have 2 songs played. I can you know. The other one is “Amazing Grace” sung in the Cherokee language. That one will have everyone crying. I think I will lurk “unseen” just to make sure they do. I mean, I BETTER see some tears or I might change my mind and not go.

    One more thing I probably should do–clean out my car! (I just had to add this last “should” for a dear friend of mine that can relate–I hope you will see this!!)

  25. Is this the last time I will see you play in the park, Syddie-Bean? Hold still. Let me hug you. I love you. You know that, don’t you? You’re such a good girl. You’ve taught me so much about being a puppy parent. You’ve taught me so much about being myself. I wish I could have been a better puppy parent to you. You were my first dog. I had a lot to learn. Thank you for teaching me. I wish I had more time to love you and spoil you. I – will – miss – you – so – much.

    Be a good dog for Davis. When he finds another girl to love you be nice to her, too. No more stealing dirty socks from the laundry hamper. Oh, Sydney. I’m going to miss prying dirty socks out of your mouth.

    Don’t worry. Davis will take care of you. He knows where all of the important papers are – you know, the papers I have to keep in my closet so you don’t find them and rip them up. Davis has all the information on my life insurance, my bank accounts, my 401k, my benefits at work… it’ll be okay. He’ll be able to sell our place and when he finds another girl to love he’ll buy a house with a yard so you can run and play every day.

    Maybe the other girl will give Davis a child. He always wanted a child. You’d like to have a little brother or sister, wouldn’t you? You’d be a good big sister. I wish I could watch you take care of your little sibling. Oh, Syddie-Bean, I’m going to miss you so much.

    I wish Davis and I didn’t drift apart. I wish I had been able to connect with him. It would be nice to think that he will miss me but I just don’t know. All these years and I don’t know if he ever really loved me or if he just stayed married out of guilt. I don’t think I ever made him happy. I was never his soul mate. He must have been so disappointed with me. Well, that will be over soon. He’ll be free to move on. And I won’t have to wonder any more.

    Syddie-Bean, I hope you know how much I love you. I wish I could fix all of the mistakes I made. I wish I was more open with people. I wish I lived more and held back less. I wish I had tried new things and didn’t always worry about planning for the future – the future that never came. I wish I could explain to you that I will go away and not come back. It’s not because I don’t love you. I really don’t want to go. Believe when I tell you if I could change this fate I would.

    When I don’t come home any more please promise me that you won’t wait for me at the top of the stairs – it will break my heart.

  26. I’m pouring myself a tall glass of scotch tape. Anyone care to join?

    : )

  27. Zelda, I’m having a gallon of gin mills after that one. So……… You have stumbled upon a group of empathetic writers here, who whole-heartedly believe everything another of us writes. I’ve heard it said, by multi- PUBLISHED authors, that they derive their story ideas by seeing something and wondering, “What if….”

    For instance, Charlaine Harris, who writes the Sookie Stackhouse southern vampire series (which I think are hilarious and clever and very imaginative, despite what HBO did to them), once told an audience that she was at her daughter’s basketball game. A girl scored a basket and kept on running right out of the gym. Harris then asked herself, “What if she never came back?” That was the embryo of a book.

    So, I’m asking myself, what if Zelda printed a copy of her letter to Syddie-Bean and Syddie-Bean, being the good dog, delivered it to Davis, and Davis read it and said, “What if…” and a conversation ensued between Davis and Syddie-Bean and Zelda. What if…..?

    I think Walk summed up the purpose of this exercise, whether it is what Ann intended or not. Our “what if” exercise tells us how we should be living today.

    What I know as the darkest hour of my life turned out to be the one that brought in the most light, and I have been living that “what if” life for three years. I am constantly astounded at what has come from emotional devastation. It was not my manner to spontaneously hug and tell friends I love them, but that is what I do today. And, I often think of how different my life could have been had I learned that lesson a lot earlier. I think of some of the rough patches in my marriage, and how I wish I’d had the strength to ask, “Is this how you want our relationship to be? What if….?”

    Yikes, look what you’ve done to me, Zelda, and so early in my day.

  28. Week seven: argue with self about which is more important: getting my affairs in order, or traveling to some place I’ve always wanted to see. Health permitting, take the most strenuous of the trips. Housework can wait until later. Remind myself on this trip of something Helen Keller said, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even heard. They must be felt with the heart.”

  29. Oh, jeez. Sorry for the intensity (and so early in the morning, too!). Well, I guess I really shouldn’t apologize. I mean, I wanted my submission to be intense.

    I wrote multiple drafts for GA-12. None seemed to hit a nerve and convey the melancholy I wanted to express. This letter to Sydney, however, flowed effortlessly. When I was done writing I looked back and was a little afraid of what I had produced.

    Oh, and I’m not married to Davis but I will take your advice, Gully, and share more of what I write with my hubby. Part of that “letting people in” thing that I need to work on.

    Hope I didn’t freak you all out. Drinks on me to make up?

  30. Make that a double for me–double-sided Scotch tape.

  31. Shaddy! You better not be under the table again. Your letter–the one you want back–was the anger part of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ Five Stages of Grief, and as I said, honest. (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance) So, no apologies needed or accepted. It was a good, heartfelt post, in my opinion. Even if you would NEVER do the things you wrote about, it was the expression of anger about your six-month verdict that was the import, and I say, “well done.”

  32. Gully,

    With a friend like you, I wasn’t under the table for long.

    I absolutely adore the Louis Armstrong song you mentioned. No one can sing it like Satchmo–I can never get enough of it. In pay back for brushing off my halo and handing it back, I looked up the words and here they are for your enjoyment and for anyone else who pauses here:

    What a Wonderful World

    I see trees of green, red roses too,
    I see them bloom for me and for you,
    And I think to myself
    What a wonderful world.

    I see skies of blue and clouds of white,
    The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night,
    And I think to myself
    What a wonderful world.

    The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
    Are also on the faces of people going by,
    I see friends shaking hands, sayin’ “How do you do?”
    They’re really sayin’, “I love you.”

    I hear babies cryin’, I watch them grow,
    They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know
    And I think to myself
    What a wonderful world.

    Yes, I think to myself
    What a wonderful world.
    Oh, yeah.

    (Can’t you just hear that soulful voice of his making every single word count and squeezing your heart ’til it overflows with joy?)

    Oh, yeah.

  33. Zelda,

    “…I looked back and was a little afraid of what I’d produced.”

    I’ve felt that way too. You poured your heart out without hesitation. I agree that it’s scary to see things we’ve hidden in our hearts suddenly out in the open, talking back to us in black letters on a white page.

    I think you did a great job.

  34. KathyH,

    You made me laugh with:

    “That one will have everyone crying. I think I will lurk “unseen’ just to be sure they do. I mean, I BETTER see some tears or I might change my mind and not go.”

    Hmmm. I’ve been thinking about those shoulder pads in your closet. Victoria’s Secret sells jeans in their catalog with padding to round out flat buttocks. If you’re okay in that department, put them on ebay for someone who’s not.

  35. Walk and Maureen,

    You’re right about doing things now.

  36. Shaddy

    Hey thanks for the shoulder pads tip. Tomorrow I bring out the scissors and snip those hateful little things out of those old, faded 80’s clothes and put them in an entirely different location! I’m gonna look real good! Gee, I sure hope they don’t fall out! Or worse, one falls and the other stays! I wonder if that’d make me walk crooked. Oh well, I’ve been told I’m a little off-center so nothing new there. And so what if I keep veering off to one side.

  37. I LOVE IT WHEN THIS HAPPENS. I just decided to pull out one of my writing books, “Escaping Into The Open” by Elizabeth Berg (I love this book). Well, I open it up to the first page. And you all won’t believe this quote. I thought I’d share it here.

    “If thou art a writer, write as if thy time were short, for it is indeed short at the longest.”

    Henry David Thoreau

  38. “…it is indeed short at the longest.”

    Oh, yeah.

  39. Oh, yeah, you’d better clean out that closet, Kathy! You wouldn’t want someone accidentally burying you in one of those 80’s shirts with the giant shoulder pads!

  40. If I Die Tomorrow
    Me: Kind of a painful topic, don’t you think?
    Other Me: Yes, and if you tell me you don’t think about death a lot right now, then I’ll stop right here.
    Me: Okay. Yes, I think about it. Yes, I bang my head against that wall.
    Other Me: Then perhaps this unanswerable question needs some thought.
    Me: Okay, but can’t you put it into a story or something? Does it have to be your usual wrestling match, as if you actually believe you can master the subject of death?
    Other Me: A story. Good idea. I’ll think about that. But for now, I want to wrestle. I need to wrestle, not be subtle. I dislike being bested.

    Wrestling with the Idea that I’m Not Immortal
    I see glimmers on the horizon of time being limited, of energy waning, of mental capacities leaching thin. On the bright side, all the years behind me have made me disciplined. I know how to get things done, finish what I start, tackle chores I don’t want to do, find time to squeeze more in, and create when I can.

    Q: What should I make sure I get done before I’m benched? (Is that, perhaps, always the question, i.e., what is important, what means something, where does quality lie?)
    A. I want to pay attention. I want to notice things. I want to pull random and raveling threads together into a lovely tapestry. I want to anticipate the needs of those I love so I can present them with something lovely before they realized that they wanted it. Yes, I selfishly seek that satisfaction and perhaps (oh how I hate to admit this) also want them to love me more.

    Q: Are there appetites here that drive me or do I get to pick? In other words, how much control do I have over these choices anyway?
    A: Perhaps one is driven by upbringing—at least to a point. Why not accept that? If I’m still competing with siblings for scarce resources—affection, attention, rewards—then why not say “yes” to this system if it works for me? Perhaps my control exists in recognition of (after recognition of) my heritage. I am not 100% free, but a product of what came before, and I choose to build my choices on that platform.

    Q: Don’t you want to “leave a mark”?
    A: When I was younger I thought that was a dumb question. I’d be dead so who cared? Now it seems more important. (sigh.) I’ve seen my parents die. When they died, I tried to hold on to some part of them and found how little there was remaining after someone was gone. Letters? Crocheted doilies? Jewelry? A chest of drawers? A lock of hair? A gift of money? Photograph albums? Memories we could retell? Stories they had written? Ooh, how I wish they’d kept a journal every day of their lives. Or do I? Would it have been overkill, making us roll our eyes with their self-indulgance?

    Q. Hey, you’re avoiding the question. Do you want to deliberately leave something behind—some sort of creation that no one but you could have made?
    A: Yes, but it occurs to me that I’m asking the question wrong. I don’t write to make a really cool, oh-so-memorable grave marker. I write for some other reason. What?

    Ha! Or as the Swedish say, Ja! See GA-13. It’s coming.

  41. When You Get to Heaven
    (An Enigma for the Ages)

    Answer me this, and answer me true,
    When you get to Heaven what do you do
    If in your life there’s been not one love,
    But the number instead is two?

    Do you get to chose the one that you want,
    The love of your life, as they say?
    Or do you stay with the one that you wed
    For each everlasting day?

    What if the first is the love of your life
    Even though you were never his wife,
    And what if he wouldn’t have chosen you,
    How do you avoid that strife?

    What if your second wants to chose you
    But you look at him now as a brother,
    And you’d break his heart if he ever knew
    That you would have chosen another?

    So, answer me this, and answer me true,
    When you get to Heaven what do you do
    If in your life there’s been not one love But the number instead is two?

  42. Dear Gully,
    I really don’t think it will be an issue.

  43. Ann: It is the coolest thing to read your work. I always wondered about your writing while taking BWW. You are so busy reading and instructing everyone else’s work which makes me feel very honored to get to read yours. Yikes! You sure can write.

    Maureen: The 80’s shoulder pads are taken care of. Thanks for the heads up–lord, I’d die if anyone saw me lying there with those big football player pads bulked up on top of my shoulders. I’d have to sit up and say “okay, which one of you pranksters put this obscene looking thing on me?

  44. Regarding Ann’s submission: I forgot all about dialoguing with our other self or selves and how insightful it can be.

    These words spoke to me: …”I am not 100% free, but a product of what came before, and I choose to build my choices on that platform.”

    I like the idea Ann made of accepting our upbringing and allowing ourselves to make choices in recognition of our heritage.

    [To accept rather than blame is an obstacle I struggle to get over. I appreciate any reminders of the advantages of making that change in perception).

    Hmmmm, I caught the scent of GA-13 as it approaches. I detect a lighter scent than that of death and its accompanying mysteries or should I say, miseries.

  45. Regarding “An Enigma for the Ages”, Gully, while you’re still alive and well, cherish and bask in both loves for what they gave you. Accept every detail that lifts your heart and box up those that tie you in knots.
    Or, take what I just wrote and trash it since I’m no counselor, just a friend who’d like you to know I care.

  46. Oh. Gully, I took maureen’s comment to mean that there was no reason for you to worry ’cause you’re not getting into heaven anyway! (JUST KIDDING!!!!!!)
    : )

  47. Zelda and Maureen,

    What a kick looking at Maureen’s comment that way! It was my initial reaction also, and I laughed out loud. Actually, if I don’t make it in, I certainly would not expect my first love had either. That’s part of what made him so alluring and fun.

    Come to think of it, the second was also. Hmmm. I detect a pattern here.

    Shaddy, both are gone, and I do indeed revel in what was. I must say, though, that the taint of Alzheimer’s remains strong for the second. Just recently have I had dreams of when his mind was whole, so I think that taint will fade with time.

    And, to sum it all up, it really is an interesting question, isn’t it? I think would occupy my week eight thoughts. That and anticipation of perhaps seeing them again.

    Now, what would I do in week nine?

  48. Our next door neighbor, my age, died yesterday after years of struggling with cancer. His wife is throwing a “celebration of life” party after the private memorial service on Thursday. That’s what Ron wanted. I guess I don’t have to describe what kind of guy Ron was.

  49. Say something, somebody, anybody, please. I’m getting lonesome for y’all. Ron wouldn’t want us to be sad; I’d venture to say he wants us to celebrate and squeeze as much life out of every minute as we can.

    I like the idea of a celebration of life gathering. How about you?

  50. Week nine: Okay, I think I’ve got a handle on this dying stuff. Gotta get out there and really live, live like there’s no tomorrow. Better to go parachuting out of an airplane than what might be ahead of me. But, the thing is, I’m really scared–scared of parachuting and scared of dying. Well, that’s something else to work on now. May as well get my paperwork in order while I consider that. And clean out the junk drawer in the kitchen.

  51. Week ten: Bite the bullet, or your nails in this case. Parachute jump is scheduled. What next? Bungee jumping? OMG…welll, it’s something to worry about other than the inevitable.

  52. Death is very hard to get a handle on. When you think you have it, your hand starts sweating and you lose your grip.

    I grabbed Death by the throat,
    And stared into its cold eyes.
    It shook one of its scrawny fingers
    Threateningly in my face.

    I dared myself not to look away
    Instead I held my ground
    Until my grip weakened
    And we stood toe to toe.

    “Let me say this,
    You’re wrong to fear me,” it said.
    “Since the day you were born
    You’ve been coming my way.

    When I take you with me
    You’ll know who I am
    And you’ll start to run
    When you see where we’re going.

  53. Hey, that’s very cool, Shaddy. I like it.

  54. An acquaintance of mine once told me that at the first wake he had ever attended they had the deceased propped sitting in the corner with a shot glass in his hand. All of his old cronies took turns pouring themselves a shot, clinking glasses with him, and drinking.
    Ever seen anything like that???

  55. They knew their time was comin’
    That was sky blue clear.
    Into town they rode still
    Showing absolute no fear.
    Up to the bank they saundered
    As if they were after a beer.
    Met with gun fire and bullets
    Which hit far and near.
    Death came to them that day
    And to the families they hold dear.
    Their life just a memory
    Of a few that still live here.
    Who are waiting
    For their ghosts to appear.
    Not many, maybe not any
    That day shed a tear
    Just another day
    In the life of the frontier.

    (Sorry, but for some reason the Dalton gang came to mind this mornin’)

  56. No need to apologize, Walk. I truly enjoyed what you wrote and the gang you had on your mind this mornin.’

    Did a guilty conscience bring them to mind? You been mulling over ideas like theirs?

    Time’s are hard, no doubt, but don’t do anything rash. We need you here; you know, you’re the Lone Ranger on this frontier.

  57. No, Maureen. I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything even remotely like what you described.

    There’s something really cool about it but I don’t think I’d want to participate. A life size cardboard replica of the deceased with a shot glass in his hand would work better for me.

    I’m really liking the idea of planning a light-hearted post death gathering, if possible. That would be an awesome way to make a memorable exit, minus the normal heaviness of wakes.

    Crying is necessary for grieving, but laughing promotes healing. A healthy dose of both would be my wish for those I leave behind. Ideally, I’d prescribe one shot of tears to every dozen shots of laughter.

    Oh, yeah.

  58. Maureen, here’s a wake story I remember reading somewhere. The author was a man so be ready :>)

    His uncle died in bed lying in the fetal position. He wasn’t found for several hours and thus his body “froze” in that position. At the uncle’s wake this guy met a young woman and they grabbed a bottle of wine and hid between the casket and wall. They were becoming more friendly by the moment when the girl, who was lying on the floor, looked up at the casket and noticed a rope tied there. She reached up and untied the rope, the uncle sat up in his casket, and the house cleared out in seconds. He said it really killed the mood.

  59. My friend Eddie and I were discussing death and dying. We spoke of all the truly horrid ways of dying–accident, disease, etc.– and finally settled on “in our sleep, suddenly, with no prior illness” as the preferred manner.

    “I’ll be ready,” I said in absolute seriousness, “when I get all these words out of me.” In retrospect, it’s a very good thing I quit writing for forty years, because I was twenty-three when I spoke those idiotic words.

  60. Walk,

    In your story, regarding the guy and the young woman lying on the floor beside the casket, sharing a bottle of wine: I find it interesting that she was more intrigued with the rope than with her new acquaintance.

    Perhaps she has attention deficit disorder?

  61. My neighbor, who died on Monday, loved fireworks. Just a few minutes ago, his family shot off a shitload (excuse my choice of words but it just sounds good with “shot off a”) of fireworks in the empty lot behind their house in further celebration of his life.

    The celebration of life gathering at the VFW this afternoon, after the memorial service, was Ron’s kind of party, through and through: folks talking, laughing, drinking beer and sharing good memories.

    ‘Twas a bittersweet time.
    Oh, yeah.

  62. re the story about the dead guy with a shot glass– I was sure my friend had to be making it up, but he insisted it was true!!! Sigh. I may never know.

  63. and Gully, as for dying when you get all those words out of you… from what I’ve seen so far you might just live forever!

  64. Here lies Gully
    in a snit.
    Not pen nor paper
    in her casket.

  65. Here comes Peter Cottontail,
    Hopping down the bunny trail.
    Hippity, hoppity, HAPPY EASTER DAY!

    Happy Easter to all of you good eggs.

  66. (One more for the road.)


    Whether you scramble it, fry it,
    Hard-boil, soft-boil or coddle it,
    Pickle, poach or souffle it
    Or whip it up in an omelet,
    Be sure that today you

    It all boils down to this:

  67. I think it would be appropriate toend GA-12 with our own epitaphs.

  68. Shaddy wrote about this
    And she wrote about that.
    When her pen ran dry,
    Shaddy laid down and died.

    If only we knew her ink was low,
    We’d have run to the store to get some more.
    Yet, no regrets, for where she’s gone
    A fountain of eternal ink will surely flow.

  69. GA-13 is waiting for you.

  70. Since I’m new to the group, I thought I would go through all the older GA’s that I missed and try to contribute. I saw this subject and thought of all the things I would do, but then I stopped and realized that a lot of those things were extremely unrealistic.

    This is a very difficult exercise for me. Being that I’m young, and the economy hasn’t been too kind recently, I have absolutely no savings. So quitting my job is out. I thought about taking out a loan, but I have almost no credit history so that might not be a possibility. And I’m still naive. If I take out a loan, who would pay it back? Would I be burdening someone I love with these choices?

    This is so sad for me. It’s bringing tears to my eyes as I reflect on it. I’m not married, I’ve never had children, and these are two things that I’ve gone back and forth on many times in the past, not wanting kids and wanting them. Being terrified of being a bad mother. Wanting to be married and not wanting it, terrified of being a bad wife.

    What about my parents? How hard would it be for them for me to go before they do? And my siblings? Would it scare them to see their baby sister leave this world before them? And my nephews and nieces. Typing that sentence. Putting it out there and really thinking about it has ripped the tears from my eyes and I can’t wipe them away fast enough.

    Kylie won’t remember me, I know that because I haven’t had the chance to meet her yet and she’s only a few weeks old. Evan probably won’t remember me either, he’s too young too.

    Maybe Bella will remember me? I know Brandon, Ian, and Andrew will. But how would they cope with something like this so soon after their Papa passed? Will Bella look at my picture and wave goodbye to me like she did at his funeral? Would she understand why I didn’t come over anymore? Would she remember when we sang “Itsy-Bitsy Spider” while I got her ready for bed?

    Would I be cremated so my family can spread my remains somewhere beautiful and perhaps close-by so they can visit me? Or would I be buried so they can see me for their last goodbyes and cry as I’m lowered into the ground?

    I have to keep taking breaks to compose myself as I write this. I’m giving myself a headache from crying so much. Is it silly that I’m crying?

    When it comes to death there’s too much to think about. What about David? We just found each other and so soon it will all be over. I know he knows how to cope with death although I’ve never seen him do it. Would he be angry with me for leaving him?

    Something I just noticed is, I’m writing this out like my family didn’t know my end was drawing near. So does that mean that I didn’t tell them? That I just continued along my path holding in the knowledge I was too scared to divulge?

    Getting to the point…

    I wouldn’t quit my job, I just wouldn’t be able to swing that and I refuse to burden my family with my debts. I would, however, take off as much time as possible before they fired me. If they fired me quickly I would file for unemployment so I won’t be totally screwed in the bill department at least.

    I would drive or fly to San Diego to meet my new niece and see my sister and her husband before my brother’s wedding. Luckily, I would be able to attend the wedding since it falls within my 6 months.

    I would hold Evan as much as possible. Maybe until my sister kicks me out of her house and tells me to go home and bug David. I would take Bella and her brothers everywhere I could possibly afford.

    I think I would write a memoir for my family, so they all could look back on my thoughts and my love for them whenever the urge struck. I think I would record a cover-album of all my favorite songs as well. Stage fright be damned, I know how much my mom loved to hear me sing and I wouldn’t steal that from her any longer.

    I would tell all the people I cared about how much I loved them every chance I got and spend as much time with them as possible. And I would tell them to live like there’s no tomorrow, and love without fear or doubt. And to not be angry with the pain they will encounter in their lives, because some of the most beautiful works of art are direct products of that pain and despair. I would tell them to live their dreams and never give up, and to always remember that when they feel the most alone, when it seems like all the light has faded and only darkness is left, that that’s when I’ll be there, reminding them that without the darkness, there would be no light, and even though my body may be gone, my love and hope for them is still there, urging them on to live and to dream.

  71. holy cow…. I’m sorry I totally wrote a novel on here…. this one was hard for me so I hope you all can understand. And I have to say I was hoping I could get through reading everyone’s posts without blubbering like a baby but I failed miserably. I lost all hope when I got to Zelda’s letter to Siddie.

    On that note, I totally forgot about my cats (how awful is that?) so I think that I might stick around and haunt them for a bit, just so I could play with them a little while longer!

    • Sabrina,

      I may understand some of the emotions you felt as you approached this GA. It knocks you on your behind (hard) and then you find yourself weeping (I sure did) and then you feel a sort of peace. I may have grown up a bit during the process.

      I think one important lesson in this exercise is to kick our insecurity to the curb and take action on the things that are important to us now. Make that cover album. Why wait? Maybe you don’t tell a soul about it… yet. (Fun Zelda isn’t getting off your shoulder just yet.)

      Oh, and I took Gully’s advice and showed the letter I wrote to Syddie-Bean to “Davis.” Gully’s “what if?” made an impression on me and I decided to take the leap into the uncomfortable and open a tiny window to my heart rather than waiting until I’m gone and it’s safe for me because I won’t be there to get hurt. Turns out it didn’t hurt and it brought Davis and I closer together (we had been having a “discussion” about having kids).

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