What will you miss when you’re dead? Everything, breathing fresh air, walking, and talking don’t count because we’re all going to miss those…or not. I will miss sitting on the couch and patting my dog. Her fur isn’t soft like that of a kitten. It’s thick, sometimes greasy or dusty or so filled with pollen that I have to take an antihistamine just to be able to pat her…but she’s mine. She’s mine to pat and to get to turn over so I can rub her belly and come as close to purring as a dog can possibly do. She’s not really ‘my’ dog. I purchased her; wrote out the check, but I put her in the name of my companion, Juli. You see, I’m too old to have a dog, at least not one with as much energy and bounce as this one seems to have. So, yes, when I’m dead I will miss being able to pat my dog.
I will miss the changing of the seasons; watching summer fade; the leaves changing color; going back to their birth shades, if you will. Not everyone knows that…that the leaves are only turning green because of their chlorophyll. Otherwise, we’d be seeing those reds and yellows and oranges and various other colors along the spectrum from spring until the fall. It’s a nice thought but without the chlorophyll, this would be an entirely different planet, therefore I guess I could add that I’ll miss chlorophyll (How can one miss something one knows so little about?). I can guarantee that I will not miss the snows of winter. Some might tack on that where I’m headed I’ll have no worries about that. I’d tell those people to “go to hell,” but then they might and it’s possible I could run into them.
I’ll miss watching Juli turn tiny little seeds into beautiful flowers of so many colors and types; vegetables, of which we had so many that I would bring piles to the gym for anyone to use. “I’m going to make a tomato quiche,” one woman told me, “because those tomatoes you bring are really great.” How nice to hear that and what a compliment it is to Juli’s skills as a gardener.
We don’t really think about what we’re going to miss when we’re gone. Then it’s too late. Maybe, just maybe it would be a good idea to sit down and make a list of the things we’re going to miss when we “shuffle off to Buffalo” or wherever it is we shuffle off to. Then we could place more emphasis on those things, knowing…well, you understand what I’m saying. Some folks might say, “Aw, that’s just that thing they call a bucket list,” to which I would respond, “A bucket list is things you’ve never done; this is quite different.” This list might consist of things you’ve done a hundred times or more, but every time you do it or them or whatever, it gives a great surge of pleasure…so, dammit, do it! And yes, I know, some of you would like to change a letter in your bucket list, but if you’re going to be serious, you’ll understand just how much of a mistake that would be; life is altogether too short to be making that kind of list.
We take life too much for granted. If you think that’s not true, I invite you to visit Children’s Hospital in Boston or St. Jude’s in Memphis or any one of a hundred or more kids’ hospitals around the country. Some of those children would give just about anything to be in your shoes or mine. Admittedly, I don’t know what your shoes are like, so let me just say they’d give anything to be in my shoes. Visit an Alzheimer’s Center where there are young people with early onset of that disease. You’ll be amazed at how fortunate you find yourself feeling.
I don’t want to be a sad sack here, but let’s face it, the end – or the beginning if you like – is going to come to all of us. Let us determine to live our lives rather than just exist until the end comes. I am both envious and jealous of people who can go to Old Silver Beach in West Falmouth. They can park their cars and walk over the sand to the water’s edge. They can go into that water, that beautiful salty water, and swim to their heart’s content. I can’t do that anymore; I’d very much like to, but I can’t. I wish that I had done it more when I could have done so. It’s too late now. I can’t walk that far; that’s not figurative, it’s literal. My body won’t allow me to do so…and it pisses me off no untold end. I’ve even reached the point where I have to use a walker on occasion…and that really makes me mad. I can’t shoot hoops with the kids across the street anymore, and it was such fun to do so. I’d regale them with lies about my basketball career – well, not all lies, but mostly – and they’d lie back to me about what they were doing or going to do, and we’d all laugh. I’d like to have done that more often. The truth is that there are so many things I wish I had either done or done more of that it’s kind of sad. Perhaps everyone over a certain age has that same reflection, and it’s probably somewhat unhealthy to dwell upon it. “Look ahead, because if you keep looking back, that grim reaper is going to catch up sooner than you expect.” I put quotes around that because someone else probably said the same thing at one time or another, and I’d hate to be accused of plagiarism.
So do those things you love to do while you’re still able to do them, and if there are things on your “round tuit” list, don’t wait until it’s too late to get around to it. When I was younger, older people would say something like, “Live your life to the fullest,” or “Live as if you’re going to die tomorrow.” Like every other young person, I’d go, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, okay, okay…” and go on my merry way. Ah, what wisdom they were uttering, and how foolish I was not to listen more clearly. Now it’s my turn to say those same things. Remember, when you’re on your death bed, it’s not the things you did that you’ll regret; it’s the things you never got around to doing. Don’t miss any of it, my friends, not one single thing.