Easter weekend is my favorite weekend of the year. Not only does it encapsulate the promise of rebirth and renewal that surrounds us in nature each spring, but it reminds me, more than any other season or event throughout the year, of what awaits me on the other side of this life. Over the course of four consecutive days of services at my church (the Mass of the Last Supper, the Good Friday veneration and adoration, the blessing of Easter foods on Holy Saturday, and of course the glorious Easter Sunday celebration), I am reminded over and over of my personal beliefs regarding death and rebirth. It leads me to think about my own eventual demise in a hopeful and optimistic light.
That is, until a classmate had me list the things I hope not to think about during the last minutes of my life. This creative exercise got me worrying (as many things do). What if, as I’m lying in my bed fighting for those last minutes, instead of thinking fondly of family vacations and the births of my children, I’m wondering if I’ve left the oven on? What if, rather than peacefully tallying my well-made choices, fruitful paths, and accomplished goals, I am instead wondering how I’ll ever find out who will win the current season of The Amazing Race? What if the thoughts in my head at my death are the ones that will remain with me throughout eternity? And what if those thoughts are centered around the tacky nylon track outfit my husband threatened to bury me in if I didn’t stop complaining about my wardrobe? (It hasn’t happened yet, but I assure you, one day it will.) Perhaps, instead of donning the dazzling white vestments of the angels, I’ll be doomed to shlump around eternity in navy blue with gold racing stripes down my arms and legs, swish-swish-swishing as I traipse across the clouds as an everlasting tribute to my dissatisfied human self.
I don’t want to lie there, fading in and out of consciousness, concerned that I won’t be meeting my editor’s latest deadline, as if words submitted to a disinterested party should matter more than words spoken to my children, or grandchildren, or husband. Nor do I want to think about the debts I’m leaving behind, and how, in those final minutes, I might be able to do something to earn something to shave some small percentage off the top of the mountain of dollar signs accumulated over a lifetime. I don’t want to think about the things I regret not doing, the chances I didn’t take, the risks that might have paid off, the “what ifs” or “if onlys.” I want only to think of the joy that is, the happiness that was, the glorious forever that awaits.
And then I wonder why it is that I taint the vast majority of my day-to-day thoughts with the exact things I pray I won’t think about when I’m dying.
So here’s to populating our thoughts with the things that really matter, today and every day. (And to making sure my husband never buys me a navy blue track suit. Ever.)