A few nights ago, as I was going to sleep, an idea popped into my mind: "There'll be a moment when I have my last thought before I die. What would I want it to be?"
Intuitively, this struck me as an important question.
That last thought would be infinitely precious, in a way. It'd reflect what I considered to be most important to focus on an instant before earthly existence and I parted company.
(Note: I don't believe in an unearthly existence. And I realize that probably I won't know when my last thought is happening. But there's a good chance I'll realize that I'm at death's door, even if the exact moment I step through is a mystery.)
I ran through several options. None felt right.
I wanted my last thought to be meaningful, not "did I remember to turn the stove off?" I appreciate the final submission on this "last thoughts" discussion thread -- that final joint was awesome -- but I was looking for something with a bit more gravitas.
Before too long three words came to mind. I imagined saying them to myself. Then I envisioned saying them out loud to whoever was with me when I died. In either scenario, they worked for me.
"I love you."
Hope you're not disappointed. But, hey, this is my last thought, so I get to pick it, no matter how clichéd it might seem to anyone else.
Now, our 21st wedding anniversary was yesterday, so love has been on my mind. (Every year I'm grateful that my wife and I got married on St. Patrick's day, because this makes it almost impossible for me to forget our anniversary.)
When I wrote a message on a card for Laurel, which I left next to a bouquet of hand-picked flowers from our garden, I told her about my last thought. When I started writing (actually, printing, as my handwriting is so bad even my wife can't read it) about how I wanted "I love you" to be the final words in my dying brain, tears started flowing.
That told me I had picked a pretty damn right-on last thought.
Emotionally, saying "I love you" as death's darkness faded in seemed absolutely perfect. I've done a lot of good and bad, acted like a saint and a sinner, screwed up and made amends, been a jerk and a decent guy.
But in the end -- and there will be one, for sure -- all of that stuff seemed to fade into insignificance next to "I love you."
I was mainly thinking of my wife with that you. However, when I let my mind run free, images of so many other "you's" appear almost unbidden. They're all included in the final word of my last thought.
You too, you who are reading this blog post, whether or not you're a regular visitor to this here Church of the Churchless. I've gotten so much meaning, satisfaction, and happiness from writing my irreligious musings the past six-plus years, and from reading the comments of other people.
I guess I have an expansive view of love. I love the coffee I'm sipping right now at a downtown Salem coffee house. I love the lighted keys on my MacBook Pro. I love the cheese ravioli that I chowed down before starting to compose this post.
There's no limit to love.
Ultimately -- and why not go there in my last thought? -- I'm talking to the entire cosmos when I say "I love you." Meaning, I don't envision a personal Cosmic You who could hear those words.
No God. No divine consciousness. No savior of humanity. Still, I feel that telling everything in existence "I love you" is entirely appropriate, just as saying "Thank you" is.
But I'm me, nobody else. Everybody is going to have a different way of envisioning his or her last thought. So if you want to share what yours might be, comment away, recognizing that what actually passes through my or your mind at our last moment could be very different from what we expect.
(Shit! Truck! Fuck! I can't believe... are all distinct possibilities, along with countless others.)