I’ve recently been trying to live my life with the gravity that any day could be my last. It is my hope that in doing so, I will come closer to not only the dreams I have set for myself–but my purpose. The hard part about acknowledging your own mortality is that sometimes you have to acknowledge your inner most fears, even the ridiculous ones.
On Sunday, my husband, daughter, and myself will make a 23 hour journey from Europe to the United States to visit with family we haven’t seen in over a year.
The thought of this terrifies me.
I have never been a timid traveler, my passport is well worn. I have loved flying since I was child and can still fondly remember my first flights from the West coast to the East coast, always begging to have the window seat so I could watch the earth below us.
Much has changed in the world and in my life since those childhood memories. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that 9/11 played a role in the beginning of my fear of flying, but, it was parenthood that pushed me off the cliff.
When we moved to Europe in 2013, the flight here was more than nerve wrecking. As I stared at my daughter in her infant carseat, just before takeoff– I prayed over and over to God that we would land safely. Every bump of turbulence caused my heart to skip, and my blood pressure to rise. My only reassuring thought was that at least if we crashed I was with the two people I loved more than anything in the world, and we wouldn’t have to live without each other. I had never been so grateful to land on solid ground.
My thoughts before this coming trip are slightly different, though. Yes, the fear is present–but because of my recently acquired perspective on life, I am having a horrible case of the “What If’s”. What if we do crash, and I never got to tell the people in my life how much I loved them?
Usually, I am the superstitious type–What if I write this and then I actually do die? Am I self-fulfilling my own destiny? Will this solidify my fate? The Dutch man who took a picture of the ill-fated Ukraine bound Malaysia flight MH-17 this past summer, and posted it as his last Facebook status with the caption, “If it disappears, this is what it looks like“, comes to the forefront of my mind.
Regardless, as silly as it may sound– the point is YOLO. You only live once. So, in the spirit of “just in case”, here is what I would want my loved ones to know if today were my last day alive:
To my parents:
I’ve never told you this before, but when I was a little girl I used to pray at night to God that if anything tragic were to ever happen to our family, that it would happen to me. I could not bear the thought of losing either of you. I would say, “Lord, if your going to take someone, please take me, because I would rather look down on them from above, then never get to see them again”. It is only now that I am a parent that I realize you probably had a similar prayer. No parent wants to outlive their child, and may God forbid that either of us ever have to.
I want you both to know that I love you equally. I don’t have a favorite. I know we’ve had our differences, there have been times that I didn’t agree with you and you didn’t agree with me. But I don’t care, because I love you, and I accept you both for who you are. Maybe I didn’t always see it this way, but in spite of your flaws–to me, you are perfect.
I am sorry. I am sorry for every time I used my words to hurt you. I have used my gift as a writer to hurt you in the past, and it is only now as I am more mature that I realize that this gift wasn’t given to me so I could hurt people, but so I could love them.
Thank you, thank you a million times for every sacrifice you ever made for our family. Again, sacrifices I only now recognize as a parent. Your hard work and dedication has helped to craft me into the person I am today. Thank you for encouraging me and supporting me, for celebrating my successes, and being understanding during my failures. I love you guys, and if we should never see each other again–it is my sincerest prayer that you both would live happy, full lives. Riding off into the sunset on a beach somewhere. I will certainly be watching from above.
To my sister:
If I have any regret at all, it is that we aren’t closer. It seems that life has always put us at odds with each other. Our age gap, the distance… so many things. I feel like our relationship never got to mature. Isn’t it ironic that the brief times that we are together–just when we’ve started to bond, we’re separated again. We never get the opportunity to be around each other long enough to create that lasting bond, the one I think we’ve always wanted. Why is it so hard for us? I hate that, I do. It is my hope that at some point in our lives, we find ourselves in a season of life that allows us to connect, that gives us the time–because I think if we had the time, we could form an unbreakable bond. The one sisters are supposed to have.
In case that never happens, in case something really does happen to me–please know that I love you. That I want you to be happy, and that I want you to live a long, beautiful life with your husband and son.
To my friends:
There are too many to name, but you all know who you are. I have moved all over this world, and every time, God has placed one of you in my life. You have comforted me when my family was too far to do so, you have made me laugh endlessly, you have inspired me to be better, and motivated me when I wanted to give up. You have been more than friends, you have been family. If we never meet again, when you think of me–think of the times that we laughed. That is all that I want you to remember me by, the mutual joys we found in each other. Promise me that you will live your lives fully. I love you all.
Well, there it is…I have said what I needed to say. I hope Monday will come and I can look at this and judge myself for being so ridiculous. But just in case…