The prompt: You just discovered you have fifteen minutes to live. Set a timer for fifteen minutes. Write the story that has to be written.
I’m going to make a cup of tea, and I’m putting sugar in it. (Who cares whether my blood sugar spikes or I gain weight if I’m about to die?!)
I don’t know why I feel like three of my last fifteen minutes on this earth should be spent waiting for tea to steep, but I think it will calm me. Slow my breathing, stretch out the present moment the way I can in yoga class. Make “now” last a little longer than the minute that just passed.
Not going to be able to get everyone I love on the phone in a spare fifteen minutes. Can I write them each letters? What do I say? I update my Facebook status, I blog, tweet and voicemail out messages of “I love you,” to all of them. “Throw me a wake, not a funeral.” I remind them.
Hot liquid on my throat. There, that’s out of the way. I’ve sent out messages of love to everyone I know. Everyone who bothers to read my blog. Now what? I’ve still got eleven minutes to live.
Can I cheat this prognosis? Can I steal 45 or 60 minutes instead of 15 and rush home to be held by Brett one more time? To hug my dog? To be comforted by my cats purring me to sleep?
Probably not. No more than I can cheat a timer ticking away soullessly in the corner.
So, if I can’t see my sunny house once more, maybe I should meditate. I should sink down deep and experience every moment in as long and full a way as I possibly can? I take another sip of my sweet, sweet hot tea, and I realize, there’s no way in hell I’m calming down this monkey-mind to meditate in my last few minutes of life.
Maybe I should go on a run? In my skirt and cute shoes, I could just dash out the door, and feel the wind on my face, the sun on my skin. Run as fast as I can and tell someone to time me. Maybe I’ll run my fastest mile yet when I don’t have to save any energy for living afterward.
I like that idea. The feeling of my lungs working, my muscles surging, the blood pounding. The sensation of exceeding that maximum heart rate I’m not supposed to go over.
If I had a bike, or a horse, or a motorcycle, I’d go for a ride. Hm, I do have my zipcar membership. Maybe I could check out a little convertible and go for a drive. Something to experience exhilaration, a rush, that fierce joy of living that only adrenaline can create.
Maybe I should paint, create one masterpiece with my last breath, only marred by the brushstroke that trails off the canvas as I collapse – but then it’s made famous because of that single stroke all the same.
Maybe I should write. Oh, I need to assign my novel to someone else to finish. Like Guy Gavriel Kay did for Tolkien. I need Lisa to go through my notes and create a best seller post-mortem. I’ll will my half of the money to Lingo, in Brett and Ethan’s care.
Only three minutes left, and here I am dithering about what to do with myself. Perhaps when I die, someone will resuscitate me – a Grady paramedic will get a “save” – and my life will start fresh and new following the broken ribs and sore throat aftermath of CPR. I somehow bet I’ll still only complain about the IV hurting my arm or hand, instead of the stopped heart. I’ll latch on to one stupid thing to complain about instead of the bigger, more painful things. Those things that are too hard to think about.
Like my cup of tea, which I over-sugared, and is now too cool to enjoy fully. I could chug it, but I don’t think that’s how I want to go down. My lips sticky with sugar, my hands wrapped around a cooling earthenware mug.
Like this silly mug of tea, I bet I’ll focus on trivialities…………………….