The Last Words...

I had the honor of accompanying a friend who was dying. She

gathered 8 of us around her and we met every other week with our

friend who was given “one year to live”. We used Steven Levine’s

book by the same name as we met and listened to our friend and also

listened to our own thoughts about our own mortality. One of the

exercises in that book is to think about what you would like to be the

last words that you say.

Alas, mostly it seems that people slip into unconsciousness a bit

before they die and the “last words” are never clearly that. But, if you

COULD determine your last words, what would you want them to be?

Singer songwriter Jennifer Berenson has a beautiful song called

“Praises for the world” in which she says that more than anything she

can think of, she would want her last words to be exactly that,

“praises for the world”. When I ask this question of friends, the most

common answer I get is that people want to leave the world saying “I

love you”.

I had the wake up experience of meeting another woman who was

imminently dying. I was completely charmed by her presence her

honesty, her humor in the face of death. She was strong and

vulnerable, had a beautiful vision of her life, and could laugh at her

own demise. After meeting her and learning that she died shortly

afterwards, I had the thought that I wanted to die just like she did;

honest, courageous, funny, humble, etc.etc. A couple of days after

that insight, I had another truer one -- I suddenly realized that this

woman did not suddenly acquire those ways of being because she was dying! And, that if I wanted to die like she died, I had better get busy living like she lived.

So, what words do you hope to be able to utter when you die? What

do those words demand of you in the meantime?

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