I have ten seconds of life left.
After so long, to know the exact time of the impending end is terrifying. The moments sieze up, and my perception lengthens, expands. The seconds begin to feel like hours, perhaps days, and yet I know the clock hammers away, every moment dragging me unwillingly to the final experience.
I cling to every picosecond and wonder. Perhaps I am wrong. Maybe there is something that comes after. Could it be that I will see my loved ones again?
The last sensations of my physical body are fled. I barely remember holding a hand, but I don’t know whom it belonged to, or how long ago I held it. Some anchor yet grips me, and the weight of it is a tether, but the lifeline will slip, sooner rather than later.
It is inevitable.
They come almost unbidden, a parade of faces and scattered moments between one bang of the clock and the next.
My family, those before, those after me. They fill my thoughts this second. Will they think of me as their time nears? Will there be any left?
I reach back for the ones I remember. They are scattered moments now, lost to time. The list assembles and it has holes, and in this moment the empty spaces gnaw at me, but I can’t fill them. There are names that go there, memories that I knew, once, but those memories are gone.
There was a time of bright vividness that the recall was instant and brilliant, but now a monochramatic haze plugs those empty holes.
What have I forgotten?
Regret. In a full life there is endless ability to build regret. That moment that came and went where a different path of might might have been carved. That incandescent instant where a nascent choice became the course of a life spent well or spent just misspent.
There are so many regrets, and in this the fading of memory is a balm. I know there are things I ought to regret far more than I do, for in all of our lives there are those we have hurt, intentionally or otherwise. How can we ever make up for all the evil we visit on others?
The clarity of impending death shows me my guilt now, as regret piles upon regret I move beyond the moments of accidental evil to those of true malice, when my heart grew black and my desire for retribution flared hot.
The secret guilt, the one no living soul but me knows about, is the strongest of all. I will take that guilt to my grave, and there is a measure of guilty satisfaction in that.
The one deed I could never apologize for, that none would ever forgive me for.
It motivated me.
To hide it I became a different person.
My good deeds next. These pile up in flashes of memory and pleasing emotion that wash out some of the guilt. I have lived a good life, I think. I have tried. After that moment.
I tried to wash it out with good deeds. I became the person I always wanted to be. I gave of myself to others, I sacrificed that they might be happy. I am not alone or unique in that, for it is the way of humans as we learn more, become more, advance toward a higher ideal, and they dampen the gnawing black, chasing it away one last time. Perhaps unbidden my mind turns away from that moment and embraces fire.
My loves. So many, and so few. The deep aching ones, the brief hot fires, the long smoldering burns, the angry furnaces of passion and desire, and jealousy. They fly about, perceptions of moths dancing around a flame. At times I am the moth wondering about the flame.
I relive them all for barely a heartbeat it seems, but they stretch on as the memories buoy my consciousness.
I was the moth, once.
I burned so brightly and brilliantly. It lasted for so long, and it was over too soon.
We were the flame and the moth together, for each other. We hurt each other, and we soothed each other.
The day we met comes back, and it shines like a piece of film from the greatest cinema of all time. The smell of the ocean air, tainted by the stink of cars, covered with the delicious odors of street food. There’s a vendor selling something that remains just out of reach, and we bump in to each other on accident.
We laugh, and it was the laugh that bonded us. It gave us that chance to run a moment into more, and still more, to expand an accident into an affair that lasted until it ran out, until the fire flared one last time, and it was over.
Will we meet again beyond the veil? Is there a veil?
I hope so.
There might not be a veil. Until this moment I was sure there was not. It has never been proven, but as my brain experiences this moment and my perceptions alter, perhaps for the last time, I think that perhaps I can see the veil.
There is a sudden tug of weight on me, and I stumble, just for a moment. I realize that I feel more now than I had before. I wonder if I do.
I feel for the anchor and give it a fond pat, and let go.
The ancor is gone. I can drift now.
There is a sensation that I’ve never experienced, pulling at me. It is a warmth, I suppose, though I know that I’ve no body to feel it with. I haven’t felt my body for an eternity now, as the parade of life wound through and about me, but now… is it really there?
At the end, what is the measure of a life well lived?
Will love ever find me again?
Word Count: 1009.