by Barnes Boffey, Ed.; Director of Training, Aloha Foundation… www.alohafoundation.org
My relationship with death has been most interesting in the fact that is has uncovered one of the great paradoxes of life: the more you think about dying, the more you think about living. Death is what gives life its significance. If we lived forever, we would never have to answer the important questions about “What do we want our life to mean?” Or “Am I proud of the person I am becoming?” or “Am I living the life I want to live or have I copped out and given into fear and inertia?” The fact that we are going to die is the great motivator of these questions.
I remember one question that was asked of me was, “If you knew you were going to die in a week, who would you call, what would you say, and what are you waiting for?” That question incited several phone calls, mostly to make sure that certain people knew I loved and appreciated them, and also persuaded me to keep that list current in case anything happened?
Thinking about dying helped me realize the importance of my saying “I love you” as the last words my wife and kids heard from me every day before I left for work. I had decided that if something happened to me that day, I wanted to make sure that my kids could say that the last words they heard from their father were “I love you,” not something like “Make sure to clean up your room” or “Adam, didn’t I tell you to get your damn bike out of the driveway?” My looking at my own death helped me make that decision.
My partnership with death has been a motivator in my creating a notebook which sits on my desk and is entitled, ”The Journey Continues: When I Die” which contains everything my kids would need to make sense of my estate if I died suddenly. Many people make books like these in the very last years of their life (although many think they will get to it and never do). I have had that book ready for my for 20 years; I count it as a gift to them that if I had died unexpectedly, that they would have some reasonable tasks to perform rather than the ungodly mess that many people leave to their kids.
Death is a friend who keeps asking, “Ok, what do you really want to do and when are you going to do it? Death is a friend who keeps us honest. Death is the final recovery from the great American addiction: “Just keeping doing what you’re doing; you can get away with it!” With Death, we can’t get away with it.
Many years ago I decided I wanted Death to be my friend rather than my enemy or adversary. I can honestly say that nothing in my life has ever been made worse by that decision, and that overall, my life has been much richer and more significant because of that relationship. We all have that choice.
“If you were sure something important, significant and life-changing were going to happen to you in the future, would you want to know more about how you might have it become an opportunity rather than a disaster?”
“If you knew you were going to die in a week, who would you call, what would you say, and what are you waiting for?”