What stories would you tell at the end of your life? What would be the moments that you hold closest, and narrate for others as the illustrations of your happiest, darkest, most embarrassing, most memorable, silliest, most meaningful experiences?
I’ve been thinking again about the song that Sarah sang for her sister Jessie on Monday afternoon.
“And the stories that we tell
will make you smile
Oh it really lifts my heart … ”
I haven’t decided what anecdotes I’d want to share at the end of my life. Maybe family camping trips, traveling for hours in the back of the car, telling stories to my own brothers and sister. Staying up all night to work on an architectural project in the studio at Miami University while my roommate read our assigned books to me. Or dancing in a tuxedo at the black-and-white Beaux Arts ball in Cincinnati with Chris, soon after we first met. Graduating from U-Mass Boston. Signing the papers to buy our first house on Central Street in Ipswich. Feeling Sarah roll through my body before she was born, knowing where her elbow and foot were pushed against the inner wall of the uterus, while it seemed as if I’d known her all my life, though she wasn’t born yet. Driving past the Charles River on the way to Childrens Hospital, hours after a blood test at the pediatricians’ office suggested that Jessie had leukemia. Watching Jessie come downstairs in her black biker boots, sequined dress and gloves for a date with her daddy. Flying in a plane to release Jessie’s ashes. Listening to Sarah sing Hallelujah at in the sanctuary at First Church. Successfully running the Coast of Hope bike ride. Watching Chris and Sarah cross the finish line of the Pan Mass Challenge together. Being accepted into graduate school.
There are plenty of stories. Including those which haven’t unfolded yet.
Some tales I’d tell my children. Ones I’d share with my sister and brothers. Maybe a few just for girlfriends. Others I’d swap with Chris.
And maybe some I’d tell to whomever I meet in the next place I’m going, when the journey in this mortal place is over. To other souls. To angels. To a divine being.
What will seem important at that point? What will be funny? What will be profound? Worth holding onto, by claiming it with words? Worth letting go, by giving it away as a story?