When I was a little kid, I had a lot of milestones I wanted to hit before I died. The first, of course, was having my first kiss.
At 13, I remember thinking how horrible it would be if I died before having my first kiss. After my first kiss, I decided I couldn’t possibly die before having sex because that would just be utterly tragic.
And so the list went on and on. As soon as I completed one milestone, I created another.
I remember reading or hearing about tragic events when I was a little kid but was never really affected by them. The Oklahoma City Bombing, for example, I remember seeing on TV with my mom, who was captivated and she just kept saying “Oh my gosh.”
I thought to myself, at the time, “Why does she care? It’s not like she knew these people.”
It wasn’t until September 11th, 2001, when I had just started my senior year in high school, that I ever felt really affected by a tragedy. I sobbed as I watched the news. I didn’t know these people, but it still affected me deeply.
My mom was actually set to travel to Boston for work the following week, and she would be flying in and out of the same airport that the hijackers had taken off from.
The following year, I actually went to school in Boston. It never failed to make me wonder what if the hijackers had waited a year or two? Could I have been on that plane?
Several years later, when I began my career as a journalist, I attended a September 11th anniversary event, and interviewed the father of a young woman who had been a passenger on one of the planes. After graduating from a Boston area college, she had spent the summer working at an internship and was flying home when she died at the hands of the terrorists. I maintained my composure while I interviewed the dad, but I cried as I drove home.
Life: we take it for granted when indeed it remains our most fragile possession.
In high school, I had a near-death experience where I got stuck under the pool covers. Because of the weight and suction the covers create, I couldn’t push them up. I felt like my lungs were going to burst from not having anymore air, and I really thought I was going to drown.
It’s the biggest of cliches, but I saw my life flash through my head. Images in quick millisecond bursts–goals I had accomplished, my family, how my family would find my body in the pool.
I ended up finding a gap between two covers and took the biggest breath of my life. I began to hyperventilate. I wasn’t ready to die.
After Friday’s Colorado shooting, Eric wouldn’t let me watch the news because I would start tearing up immediately. Perhaps it’s the true journalist in me that wants to devour information and always wants to be informed with all the details and all the facts. But that still doesn’t keep me from being human and often wondering–that could have been any of us, it could have been any theater in the country. You’re just watching a movie, having fun, and then bam. Lights out.
It’s when events like this happen, that I go back to my milestones. I’ve been kissed, I’ve loved and been loved, I graduated college, I’ve traveled around the world, and don’t tell my dad, but yes, I’ve had sex.
My most important milestone however was marrying Eric. Hands down, the best decision of my life, no matter how difficult things may have been and still are at times. I ask myself, had it been me in that theater, would it have been okay to die?
There are still things I want to accomplish, like becoming a mother and traveling more. But for the most part, I am absolutely happy with where I am in my life right now and what I have accomplished. Yes, it would suck to die (to put it bluntly), but it would especially suck more for the people you leave behind.
It’s when tragic events like this happen that I often question: If you died today, would it be okay? And if not, then what do you need to do to make it be okay?
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This was really powerful. I can’t believe that happened to you with the pool cover! How scary.
I have so much I want to do… now it’s more about my kids though. I wouldn’t want them to go through life without a mom, so I can’t die now.
Wow. What a deep post.
As a Christian, we’re told to have no fear in death. I really struggle with that, though. Especially at this point in my life. For one, HH and I got married about a month ago, and I definitely don’t feel like we’ve had nearly enough time together. I haven’t pursued a career in what I love yet. And most importantly for me, I haven’t had or raised children.
It’s a scary thing to confront your own mortality… I just hope that when it’s my time to go, I feel like I’m “okay” with it.
I’m glad I’m not the only one who struggles with that fear, despite knowing that what lies beyond is so much greater. Nice to know I’m not alone.
To answer the question directly, no, I wouldn’t be ok with it. I “blame it” on my kids. Once you’re a parent, you want to be there for every moment. I can’t imagine leaving my kids now – or ever, really – but especially now when they’re really just babies.
I don’t know that it will ever be okay for me to die, but I do think that if I died today I could say that I have lived my life trying to make a difference and be a better person.
This is definitely going in my links roundup next Thursday. What happened in Aurora…I can’t put into words. All of the ugliest things in life, wrapped together. It’s important to “be here now.”
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Very insightful post. I am not ready to leave this planet by any means. Too many things I want to do first like pay off this debt lol. Its interesting topic to think about and to plan out what happens to your loved ones when you die-namely how they will be taken care of if you have children and the like. I don’t have kids but I want to make it so my boyfriend would be at least somewhat financially secure so that would be less one less thing. Hopefully that won’t happen, though because I am going to live forever! 🙂
No, I would not be okay with dying. I have so much to do and so much to see! I want to watch my young daughters grow up and build lives and families of their own. I can’t miss that.
This is a very edgy post but an important topic that needs to be addressed. For me, I’d be ok with dying. Sure there’s still a lot left for me to do in this world, but I’m not living with any regrets. The hardest thing would be to leave my fiancee though.
We visited the 9/11 memorial when we were in NYC a few weeks ago. It is both humbling and horrifying just being in that site and thinking about what happened, and all of the people and families who were affected by it.
Pool cover–my mom always told us never to swim under the cover. I never understood why it was a big deal. Now I do.
I think there’s probably a reason that very few of us know when death is imminent. We would surely make ourselves crazy thinking about it as a “deadline” of sorts. I guess all we can strive for is to live each day as if it were the last, without regrets–which is obviously way harder than it sounds.
I love my life now but I’d take heaven any day. It brings me so much comfort to know Jesus has conquered death and it has no victory over me through my faith in Him. Matt Maher’s song Christ is Risen explains it well.
I too was very affected by the Colorado shootings. I’m a very sensitive person, in that I often feel others pain and can sense when they are upset. My heart just goes out to everyone involved. Going to a movie will never be the same. I don’t think I’m ready to die. I am more content and happy with the way things are going than ever before but I want to have kids and see some more places.
I’m so glad you were okay in the pool that day. When I first moved to Grenada, I fell while hiking in the water during a rainstorm and the rapids sucked me down. I would be dead if it weren’t for the girl next to me who grabbed my bookbag in a split second and she, along with 4 other women, dragged me to the side together. It happened too fast for things to flash but I do remember thinking “Wow, this is it.” When I got to the side safely I just cried and cried and cried. I keep wondering what my reaction would have been in that theater – am I a runner or someone who would fall to the ground or someone who would help someone else, or would I be selfish and try to get myself out first? I think those “what if” situations are what can affect our minds the most.
This took a different direction than I was expecting. I thought you were going to talk about the financial aspects of dying! Due to my husband being in the Army, we both have wills and we’ve talked about our wishes (organ donation, cremation, stuff like that). In that sense, I’m ready. Am I satisfied with just the short time I’ve spent on this planet? No way! I have so much more I want to do. Not anything specific; I just want more time to be with my husband and enjoy the blessings of life.*
I am okay with myself dying. I don’t think it is something to be scared of, but when I think about it from the perspectives of others, I can see it not being okay. My fiance, my siblings and my friends would all be affected. We’ve watched both of my parents pass away and it has been terrible. There are so many life events I wish they could be here for, but it is truly “ok” that they are gone. These events will happen and we will be able to make great, albeit different memories.
This was very well written — sometimes, after a particularly good experience, I think, goodness if I died right now, I would have lived a full and happy life. Sometimes I say it aloud. It’s always wonderful to have gratitude.
No, not really. I mean, I’m happy enough but there are a few things more I really want to hit first, and one thing in particular.
And that’s why I’m about to make a really big decision in life! Hope to blog about it sooner rather than later.
I love this post…what a strong message, and so very true. That pool story is SO scary, friend, I am so glad to have met you, I feel fortunate to have! And I love that your marriage to Eric is one of your best decisions and that you feel so fulfilled, as you should. XOXO
I’m very afraid to dies. I’m definitely not ready to say good bye although I can’t think of anything necessarily that I would be sad to die before doing. Being trapped under pool covers sounds awful! How scary that must have been. I’ve never had a near death experience and I hope not to.
That sounds TERRIFYING about the pool covers. I’m not sure what I would’ve done.
I was working at a national news station on September 11, 2001 and also Senator Paul Wellstone, for whom I had worked on the reelection campaign the prior summer, passed away. I had to maintain composure throughout the long reporting days but, when it was over, I just bawled my eyes out and had to cab home, not quite in a state of mind to take public transit or to drive.
When I was younger I had some crazy near death experiences (falling off a cliff and into the ocean, 2 extremely bad car accidents where I was a passenger, getting lost in the sand dunes during a monsoon storm in Fiji) and started to live my life as if it will end tomorrow. I looked at my life and its experiences as collecting amazing stories to retell, and therefore I don’t have any milestones left, aside from motherhood. Even that, at this age, would not be a regret while on my death bed.
Very thought provoking post. It’s scary to think about those near-miss occasions when you could have been involved in a tragedy. I had just moved into my freshman dorm in NYC, 2 miles from the world trade center on Sept. 11th. I was luckily fine and so was everyone I know, but I spent the whole rest of that week looking over my shoulder wondering what might come next.
For me to be “ok” with dying, I think the last big milestone that would be huge for me is to get married.
(formerly of Ms. Marvel Project)
“and don’t tell my dad, but yes, I’ve had sex.” Ha! That’s classic.
Five months ago I probably would have thought I was okay with dying. Now that I’m carrying another life? It’s not so okay anymore. Any close calls I have in the car send me into a panic. It’s a crazy feeling.