Before I Die

J U L Y   2 0 1 3

I sat on a bench in a park with a man who had been given his final diagnosis. That long afternoon he spoke to me from his heart, his words dream-like, drifting in and out of fantasy. When we said goodbye I went home and tried to write down what I remembered he said, but most of it had vanished. These are the few lines I could recall:

benchI’d like to get it right before I die
live without leaving a trace
put the world in order
tidy up

I’d like to tell all the girls they’re loveable
and all the boys they’re good
so they’d smile all the way down into their bones
at the simple fact of it

I’d like to bow back to those trees
swaying their crowns in the sunlight

I’d like to say something so wonderful
that everyone would stop
for a moment
surprised by the sudden remembrance
that they already know what this is all about
but forgot
light playing on the wave of emptiness
this All-Good, All-Bliss, Home

I’d like to tell my children
there’s no need to worry or be sad
and they’d believe me
except of course for the sadness we can’t bear anyway
of appearing and disappearing like this
so dear
with none of us able to adequately hold
or honor the precious moment of love we love

I’d like to tell God how thankful I am
and have that telling mark the end of time

Before I die I’d like to walk into
everyone’s most intimate space and tell them
everyone
every man woman child I have ever known
that they are my favorite, the special one, my beloved

I’d like to take this great carpet of the world
in my two hands and give it a shake
send a wave through it that would shake free
the ugliness we’ve done to it

I don’t know what will happen when I die
and I’m glad for that
what I do know is it will be more awesomely loving
and beautiful than I could ever imagine sitting here

That’s my faith I guess

Here I remember he became quiet, gazing into the sunlit foliage of the park in front of us. It felt like he wanted to say something more but didn’t know how. A young mother walked by wheeling a pram, followed by a little boy trailing a stick in the gravel path. After they disappeared he spoke again.

No
it’s not my faith
I’m sure of it
I’m as sure of it as I am of this moment
how it is

so kind
after all our worrying and hating
still so kind