I’m writing you this letter because I’m dead.
Well, that’s not true. I’m dying. Really fast. I’ll be dead soon. I’m never leaving this hospital. At least not until I’m dead. Which, thanks to this meningitis, will be soon.
I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you. I did it on purpose. No, not die. I didn’t tell you on purpose. It’s nothing against you, I swear. It’s just that I didn’t want you to feel sad. You’re someone I cherish, and seeing you be sad would make me sad. I don’t want to be sad before I die.
So don’t be sad. I’m not. People keep coming to visit and saying things like “I’m so sorry” and “I can’t believe this is happening” and “but you’re only 23!” and other things that I don’t want to hear. Listen, I get it, I’m dying. They don’t have to remind me of that. Every conversation I have is full of apologies and tears and goodbyes. I don’t want my last conversation with you to be like that too. You’re my best friend, and I don’t want our last moments to be our worst.
We’ve had so many good memories. I want them to be what you remember me by. Not me now. Decrepit, weak. No, I want you to remember that time we belted out Don’t Stop Believin’ at karaoke. Or the time we drank beers in the park and watched all the frisbee players toss their discs back and forth, seeing who can throw it the hardest, farthest. I want you to remember me by the time we drove all the way to Nebraska to go camping only realize we forgot our gear. The good times. That’s how I want you to remember me. Not like this.
And don’t think that because I’m dying young I’m missing out on life. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’ve had a wonderful life. Sure, I won’t be able to have children. Or even get married for that matter. But I’m ok with that.
I have no regrets. I realize now, with my fate looming over me, that I don’t regret the hour I spent aimlessly wandering through the park when I told myself I should be working. I don’t regret letting myself cry when I felt sad. I don’t regret leaving that one job too early or never running a marathon. I don’t regret that I never understood quantum physics, and that I lost touch with my childhood friends. I don’t regret eating that pint of ice cream, and then following it up with Oreos. I don’t regret that C I got in high school or the performance I bombed in college. I thought I’d regret these things. But I don’t. I don’t at all.
Why? You see, I didn’t do those things because I was busy doing other things. Like going to happy hour with you. Or watching that crappy TV show that I know is terrible for my brain but that I love so much. I was listening to music that made me feel good while I walked through the streets of the city. I was taking the long way home so I could see the old building that once was my high school. I was living the dream. My dream.
Why am I so nonchalant about my death sentence? Because every moment I’ve had is vastly more important than what’s happening to me. My death was inevitable, albeit early. But it takes nothing away from the path I’ve laid behind me. I’m proud of my life. Every moment I’ve had has been incredible. I lived it as fully as I could. I’ve lived it more fully than so many other people – the people who dwell on the past or the future, but never the now.
Remember that now exists. It’s the most important thing I have to say to you as I lie here, ready to rest my eyes. The future is unreachable. The past is unchangeable. But now – now is real. Now is what makes us feel alive. Now creates the past we cherish in the future. Now is spontaneous and scary and thrilling and every range of emotion imaginable all squeezed into a singular marble of time that can easily be lost if you’re not careful.
What I’m trying to say to you, my friend, is that we’ve had a good run. Now it’s up to you to keep going hard and strong. Don’t dwell too long on your past or stress too much about your future. Focus on your now.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to quiet down. I hope you’re not mad, but I need to keep some strength just for me. You see, I have one more moment I need to feel – only a little bit of now left. Who would I be if I missed it because I was dwelling on the past?