I know two things about my death:
I know I’m going to die.
I also know that when the time comes, it will likely come as a surprise to me.
Death is usually like that; it arrives as a rude interruption—leaving work undone, conversations unresolved, plans unfinished, dreams unfulfilled.It rarely lets you wait until you’re fully ready to go.
Death leaves permanent ellipses where we’d have placed periods.
We will all be in the middle of something, of many somethings, when we are taken from here to hereafter.
As much as I can, I want to be prepared.
Given this, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I want to die:
I want to die helping people; being a place of refuge and rest and encouragement for those who find far too little of it here.
I want to die giving a damn about more than me; pushing past the selfishness and apathy that so many seem afflicted with, that I am so prone to defaulting to.
I want to die being a dissenting voice of kindness; letting the harried, exhausted, beleaguered people around me know that they are worth more than the world often tells them.
I want to die seeing and hearing; having my eyes and ears turned toward the invisible and the unheard, knowing that some people spend their whole lives in the shadows.
I want to die speaking love; using my words to bring healing, to cultivate hope, to confront enmity, to warmly embrace those pushed to the periphery of this life.
I want to die laughing; releasing a combustible joy that explodes from deep within my belly and gives life to someone else.
I want to die feeling deeply; caring more than I should, loving lavishly, being moved by the beauty hidden in the ordinary that too many people miss.
I want to die being clear; about what matters to me, about the world I wanted to build—and clear to the people I love so that they never doubt it after I’m gone.
I want to die believing; in the goodness of people, in our shared humanity, in the stuff that makes us the same, in the mystery outside of my senses, of the wonder that this life deserves.
I want to die reaching; straining toward meaning and purpose—and a better version of myself than I was yesterday.
And if this is how I want to die, it’s also the way I need to live—so that when death does come, I’ll be in the middle of something redemptive and beautiful and worth spending those last moments doing—I’ll be in the middle of really living.
I don’t want to die squandering a gift or wasting daylight or overlooking people or procrastinating away love I could be giving now.
Friend, when you are interrupted here by death, what do you wa
riend, when you are interrupted here by death, what do you want to be in the middle of?
How do you want to die?
Decide that—and then go and live.