Through My Eyes

Timing was everything.

The Hours After You Die

with 4 comments

A little after 4am yesterday morning, I woke up with an awful feeling – I hadn’t been given enough time to say goodbye.

I had woken up from a vivid dream in which I had died. In the dream, I’m not sure the method in which I had been killed (maybe a car accident), but it had left me displaced from my body and my ghost free to find and approach my parents, requesting an hour to spend with each of them individually.

With my Mom, I sat her down on a sidewalk and let all of the thoughts in my head roll out of my mouth. I told her that no one could have asked for a better mother. No one could have been as lucky to have someone who is so caring, selfless, loving, considerate, kind, gentle, and sweet in their lives. No one has made sacrifices like she has and still look at my sister and I so deeply with love and affection. She cried as I told her this and wanted to know why I was saying these thing. It seemed as if she couldn’t grasp the fact that I was gone and was visiting her post-humously.

With my Dad, something strange happened. I was suddenly the four year-old version of myself. (My Dad was a lot less stern and much more approachable when I was a child. He was one of my best friends up until I became a teenager.) I put my left hand in his right, and we went for a walk. He clutched my hand tightly, and in a broken voice, said: “Why do you have to leave, you just got here?”

Throughout the dream, I remember feeling a deep sense of guilt and urgency. Guilt for not having spent a lot of time with my parents this past year. Guilt for not often expressing myself and my feelings towards them, with the exception of when I’m annoyed or frustrated. Urgency knowing that anything could happen tomorrow, to any one of us.

I think I had this dream due to a number of reasons. That night, my family had met for dinner because my aunt from Hong Kong was visiting. We sat there talking for about an hour after everyone was done with their meal, and the topic of death came up. My cousin Nick mentioned that he believes older people who say, “Oh, I don’t care if I die tomorrow,” or “I’m ready to go,” often, and without fear, actually live longer lives. We were trying to figure out why that would be the case. On the other hand, while I was at my parents’ house this past weekend, my mom informed me that my grandmother in Hong Kong had discovered a growth near her ovaries. We’re not sure how serious it is and whether it could be a tumor, but this had been on my mind, as well.

When I woke up from the dream, I sat up in bed and wept. It was too early to call my parents to make sure they were okay, but I had the urge to talk to them. I finally fell asleep thinking of all the changes I’d like to make regarding how I spend my time with family and how often I should visit seeing how close they live to San Francisco. I thought about how frequently I pull out my Flip to record funny moments with friends, but I rarely use it to record my mom cooking dinner when I’m home or my dad playing pool with his friends. While we have drawers upon drawers of photographs from the past, we have very few moving images of each other. This needs to change.

The Next Day

The next afternoon, I had my Evolution of Media class. My instructor, John Scott, started the lesson with a clip from a Ted Talk featuring Adam Ostrow. It was called After Your Final Status Update.

John then showed us a website called ifidie.org. This site allows you to write notes that will be delivered only in the event of your death. Here’s how it works.

I have to admit, it was a little creepy that John had decided to start the lecture with a topic I had just lost sleep over some hours ago. When I told him and the class about my dream, he shared this note he had posted on his blog more than a year ago.

These dreams are reminders of what we already know. Don’t take today for granted. Get rid of any petty grudges you’re holding. Tell the people whom you care about what they mean to you. Tell your parents, if you can, that you love them and how much you appreciate them for all that they have done and would do. Tell your siblings that there are no others in the world like them, because only you and they know what it’s like to be in your crazy, embarrassing, they-are-going-to-drive-you-mad family.

Most of all, do everything you want to do. You’re only here once (unless you believe in reincarnation). You might as well have some fun.

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Written by winniewongsf

August 2, 2011 at 9:28 am

4 Responses

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  1. Well done. Awesome post. You have some skills with words, you.

    John Scott

    August 2, 2011 at 12:45 pm

  2. That means a lot coming from you. Thanks for reading, John.

    winniewongsf

    August 2, 2011 at 1:42 pm

  3. This makes me want to prepare my facebook, linkedin, and blog for this ultimate day. Thanks for the insight. Keep up the great writing.

    Dan

    August 3, 2011 at 3:26 pm


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