I’m Not Ready To Die
I’m Not Ready To Die: With Each Breath You Breath
I heard my name today on the cold hollow breath of that part of life we know as death. It called to me but I ‘m not ready to die. I am not any more prepared to leave here than I was prepared to arrive. Sometimes I wonder what brings us to this life and, then as soon as we’re settled in, tells us we must go? Why give our hearts a longing to live and then tease us for a lifetime with the loss of it?
Again, I heard my name.
A voice pronouncing my life’s end.
I looked around just to make sure that I was alone. I was; I saw no one, but still I quietly said, “I’m not ready.” That’s when the ground shifted beneath my feet and a slight dizziness brought to me an unexpected smile, and I thought, wow; this is for real. I took a deep breath and put aside the chores I had to do and pulled up an old crate in the corner of the garage. Leaving the garage door up, I sat down with the idea that I would just sit there and wait and see what happens next.
I’m not sure if the pains in my chest caused my shortness of breath or if the pains were the result of me not breathing at all. If this was my last precious breath I didn’t want to let it go, so I caught myself holding my breath as if it was the final one for me.
I heard the voice say, “Hold On, there’s no more when that one’s gone.”
And so, I did, I held on and fought that thought of no more breath. I was afraid to grasp for more. But still I gasped and when I found a breath to breathe I laughed out loud, “See Damn It … I’m not ready.”
But no one was there.
Nor was there anyone to catch me as I fell into a dark swirl as everything turned black. I felt something hard smash into my right knee and so I quickly put my arms up in front of me as I continued falling through this sudden darkness. The minute I hit the floor I was immediately unsure as to whether I had just fallen, or if I had been there for some time, and I was just now waking up.
I was cold and very careful when I moved. I never felt as sure of anything in my life as I was of my fate that day. It became so certain to me then that I reached the end.
My only thought was how embarrassing it must be for someone to watch you die. I don’t know what made me feel that way but I was glad no one else was around and so I didn’t hurry to get up. I just lay there in the darkness and thought; so, this is what it’s like.
Struggling, I said once more, “But, I don’t understand, I’m not ready.”
Instantly, the voice I thought I fought and won said, “Son, don’t fight yourself the way you do. Give it up, just let go of what you’ll never know, and let what’s left of life just be.”
I sat up and saw it was not as dark as it was a minute ago. I could see I was still in my garage and the words I heard started to make sense. They said I was struggling against some fate these words were trying to give me; and so, immediately I realized I had some say in what was happening in this fight to live or die.
I replied, “Just a minute, please wait … you have the wrong idea. You see … I’m not ready.” There was no reply, so I continued, “Look here, life’s been tough and it’s been a hard fight for me and I want to live out that part of life for which I fought and won. I’m not ready; not yet. Besides there’s things I’ve just begun. I have so much that I left undone.”
There was just silence.
I got to my feet and with those thoughts in mind, I stood there still, and still no sound of any kind. I quietly waited for some final word. It didn’t come and I didn’t mind.
But then, all at once, the silence grew to such a deafening sound, my heart stopped, and that’s when He spoke to me, “I gave you life with every breath I let you breathe. You’re the one who passed life by and had no time for me. Besides, there’s nothing on this earth undone and what’s more; life was a gift, it wasn’t won.”
Angered now I asked, “Well then, what was it all about? Has my life just avoided me? Were the things I’ve done useless? Was my life just a pretentious scheme that gave my existence some reason to be. And then it just stops – no end, no conclusion… there was no real success in love, friends, family or anything? Did I not leave anything behind, not even a little happiness? You’re telling me that I only tried to live, but at living life I failed miserably.”
My statement “at living life I failed” echoed back to me and hung in the air for me to hear again a million times.
Did the silence mean I’m catching on to what I was really like, or would it be correct to say, ‘like I am’? Or does it even matter any more now that I know I didn’t do too well at all. Wow, all that time I thought I was the one who had it going on. I thought I was right and everyone else was wrong to not follow me. Oh man, where have I been… you mean to say, I didn’t even have happiness?”
Meekly now, I fought for something more, “Oh come on, my life had to be more than that,” But, there was nothing more for me.
There was no grand and wonderful things I’ve done, no real sacrifices that meant much to anyone else but me. There were no mountains moved, no journeys made, no real kindness anywhere. I could see clearly now, there wasn’t a thing for anyone that I left behind.
After some measure of time the voice spoke up, “You see son, it’s not life but life’s rewards that are won. Life itself was a gift and is enjoyed by doing the simple things whose tasks are done the moment they’re begun.”
This thought didn’t comfort me. Instead, I became more confused. Here I stood at the end of life not knowing if I ever lived. I felt small and worthless and I wondered why it is I dared to demand another day of life.
I sensed His voice was kinder now as he talked to me again, “I tried to tell you ‘what life was for’ with every breath I let you breath but you were so busy with your self, you just passed through life not knowing anyone else was here. But you must know by now where you went wrong. So, do you still want to take this day and live it, and maybe this time live it differently?”
I answered softly, “No, I don’t think I should. I feel too, uh… I don’t know… what could I do with another day?”
God said, “I’m glad you finally understand that just because your life is yours, living it, isn’t solely in your hands.”
Then the silence came once more.
The silence was so long that I had time to wonder if I should try living again and, who knows, maybe this time I just might get it right. Maybe I should speak up and tell God I’ve changed my mind.
But God spoke first and this time He said, “OK, I have something for you. Before you go, and since you accept that you’ve reached your life’s end, let me take just a minute and show you what you could have been.”
I was struck with a sudden chill at the thought of what God was about to show me. His words, “what you could have been” dropped me to my knees. I know God was watching me closely because I saw Him smile when I quickly yelled out, “No wait! I’ll take it… I’ll take this day and yes, I’ll live it. My life will be different this time. I swear it. Yes, give me this day and I’ll be glad… NO, I mean, I am thankful for the chance to live it.”
The darkness turned into light and I stood in my garage breathing in this brand new day. My chest pains were gone and my fears were replaced with thoughts such as these:
Thoughts like spending time with those I love and with my family. And hoping that someday, somehow, I’ll be able to let them know how important they really are to me. I want them to know that I care enough and love enough to want to know all their hopes and dreams and fears.
Thoughts like telling my friends that I really care for them and of how much they mean to me. There were those who have been so kind throughout my life for whom I often planned to, someday, show my gratitude with a grand display… but many of them quietly passed away – before I took the time to simply say… Thank You.
Thoughts like letting the people I’ve hurt know that having my own way at their expense isn’t important anymore. And seeing beyond my self-concern and thoughtless acts, I see they never were.
Thoughts like knowing that through small talk and sharing friendly views, you find what interests others and discover exciting news. It’s hell to know that someday you might find, in some unpleasant way, how easily you could miss the time one cares to spend with you.
Thoughts like how beautiful it would be to stand and watch so quietly the early morning sun streak through the pines and lay down easily on a dew-filled yard, full of trees and back-lit leaves on a brisk October day.
These are those things that are simply done the very moment they’re begun. They seem small, but it’s what makes life worth living. So while you have the chance, leave acts of kindness and really care, as you go along your way. That way you’ll know that you really did live before you reach that final day.
When you give yourself to others you’ll find each day has paved the way to meet that last ‘unexpected’ day, that’s waiting for you somewhere up ahead. And though surprised when it appears you’ll meet it on your own terms instead.
You know … I’m glad I fought for one more breath and discovered that life doesn’t stop at death. But, most of all, I found out that life doesn’t begin just because we’re born. The life God has for us really starts the moment we choose to live it.
I pulled this out from 1975 and brushed it off sending it just the way it was and it really happened exactly like I wrote except I did hit my head on the concrete floor and my hair was matted with dried blood when I got up.
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2014
R.L. “Duke” Tirschel