Can We Truly Live Like We're Dying?

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“I went skydiving I went rocky mountain climbing I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu And I loved deeper  And I spoke sweeter  And I gave forgiveness I'd been denyin' And he said some day I hope you get the chance To live like you were dyin'.”

-Tim McGraw


I wanted to truly understand what it’s like to live like I’m dying. To do so, I chose to spend a whole day in the mindset of it being my last day; when I would go to bed that night, I wouldn’t wake up. Friday October 1, 2010 would be the day, the day of lasts. Thursday night I wrote the following:

It’s weird. I feel like I’ve been preparing for this one day all week: trying to plan and think about all I want to accomplish and with whom I want to do so. I’m starting to feel like it’s not something that can be planned. I hope I can live it to its true potential. I’m not good at lying to myself or anyone else for that matter. We’ll see what happens if I truly live like I’m dying.


How exactly do I want to spend it? I want to wake up in my own bed, at my home in Carlton, MN. I don’t want anyone to know – I don’t want them to treat me different or be sad. I want to enjoy breakfast with my mom. I want to have a medium caramel mocha at Bearaboo, my favorite coffee shop, with grandma. I would love to treat my friend Courtney to Hawaiian pizza, considering it’s our favorite.


Is it bad that I want to spend my day focusing on earthly people? I feel like I should be telling as many friends as I can about how awesome God is, because what if I was their only connection to God and I didn’t even try to lead them in His direction? 


For food, I wanted banattas (like calzones, but sliced and dipped in marinara sauce), but my mom told me she didn’t have enough time to make them. I was disappointed. She did make me my favorite soup: broccoli cheese, and even apple crisp a la mode for dessert! I wonder if she knows.


I don’t want to do homework. I would love to treat my friend Courtney to Hawaiian pizza, considering it’s our favorite. I’m starting to wonder about all my possessions. I can’t take them with me, so why have I cared about them so much? It’s strange, I feel like I should be happy and thankful for how blessed I’ve been in this life, but I’m sad. I feel a little bit selfish for being sad, but what if I’m not ready to leave my friends and family? What if I want to see more of God’s beautiful creation? I feel like I’m going through the 5 stages of grief  for myself and what was my life.


The five stages of grief were created by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. They describe the stages that people go through following a serious loss. I think they thoroughly explain the stages of emotions that I experienced on my “last day.” 

Stage 1: Denial. 

At 5:30am my alarm went off. Though I was excited to have breakfast with my mom, I didn’t want to wake up. I was so warm and comfortable in my bed; the bed I had had since elementary school. I couldn’t believe that this was the last time I would lay there looking up at my ceiling full of glow-in-the-dark stars. I glanced around my room, gazing at all of my movie posters and scenic photography that covered nearly every inch of my wall space. It was still dark outside, so it didn’t seem right to be waking up. It hadn’t hit me yet. In the back of my mind I remembered that it was my last day, but emotionally, I wouldn’t accept it.


Stage 2: Anger.  

 I wanted more time. I was mad at the world, or perhaps God. I wanted to go back to sleep and wake up with a full life ahead of me, but the clock kept ticking, counting down the hours I had left. 


Stage 3: Bargaining. 

Okay God, I’ll get out of bed, but does this really have to be my last day? Maybe I can take a nap later to spend more time in this comfortable bed. 

  Now that I think of it, I usually make this bargain with God everyday: 

 If I wake up and go to class, I can take a nap later right?

My home Christian radio station was doing a bi-annual share-a-thon, in which they were raising monetary support for the station. I felt the urge to donate. God suggested that I give $150. So, I checked my bank account. As I did so, an internal battle sparked in my mind. 

You’re going to die tomorrow. You don’t need money!

But what if I do live? How about $50? Okay, maybe $125, but that’s my final offer!

A familiar Bible passage came to my mind. It is written, in Matthew 6:33-34, “But seek ye first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Needless to say, I lost the battle. There’s no bargaining with God, especially when tomorrow isn’t concrete.

Stage 4: Depression. 

My mom and I drove separately to the restaurant where we were going to drink coffee and eat breakfast together. On the way, I became depressed knowing that this was the last time I would be able to bond with my mother. Tears welled up in my eyes, though I was unable to shed the tears. I didn’t want my mom to know; therefore I didn’t want the evidence of sadness stained on my face. When I was alone, I was able to confront my emotions, but while I was in the presence of my mother, I only wanted to focus on enjoying our time together. A couple times during our 1 hour visit, thoughts popped into my head reminding me that this is it

A fluffy buttermilk pancake took up the majority of my plate, bordered by two pieces of bacon, and one over-medium egg speckled with Tabasco sauce. Accompanied by a blue mug of black coffee colored with French Vanilla creamer, my breakfast was delicious. Conversation focused on school, work, family, and plans for Thanksgiving. Even though I wouldn’t be present for Thanksgiving dinner it was fun to pretend and imagine myself at that table set full of delicious food and surrounded by family. 

After breakfast, I gave my mother one last hug and dimly watched her pull out of the parking lot. My next date was with my grandmother. I stopped by her apartment at 9:05am to pick her up. We then drove to my favorite coffee shop, Bearaboo. I was extremely disappointed to find out that their espresso machine was in the Twin Cities being fixed. Luckily, the barista knew I was a regular and did her best to accommodate to my needs. She made me a small coffee with caramel and chocolate and she even topped it off with whipped cream. We sat down at the middle booth, gratefully sipping our coffees. Discussion was as usual. Catching up on each other’s lives, updates on the family, and neighborhood gossip. A quick reflection on my father’s early death made me sadder about leaving. As my grandma often tells me how much she loves me I couldn’t bear to think of her having to lose me. She told me of the two funerals she had to attend the following day and I blocked out the idea that at the end of the week, she’d have another one. At the end of our 1 hour visit, I drove her home, and gave her a big bear hug, goodbye

I couldn’t handle the thought of never seeing my mother again, so I dropped by the school where she taught 6th grade. I gave her about 3 more hugs before finally being able to let go and leave. My mother waved from the second floor window and I returned the gesture; it was a long-time family tradition. 

The drive back to the Twin Cities was an emotional one. Accompanied by my thoughts and some background music, I searched deep within my soul for some truth. I hit the end of the depression stage as Westlife sang the Bette Midler song “The Rose.” I was at the nearest point to actually shedding tears as I heard the lyrics:

“When the night has been too lonely  and the road has been too long  and you think that love is only  for the lucky and the strong  Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows  lies the seed  that with the sun's love  in the spring  becomes the rose.”


Stage 5: Acceptance. 

 It was at this point I realized how much life had exhausted me. Life is hard, but this being my last day, I would soon be able to rest for eternity. In excitement, butterflies danced in the pit of my stomach. My mind wanders towards a beautiful experience. My inner child, a cute younger girl with a blond ponytail and bright sparkling blue eyes, is standing on white fluffy clouds. She sees her father in the distance, my father. He looks healthy, his arms open wide. Chariots of fire plays in the background as I run in slow motion towards him and I leap into his arms. In glorious reunion I feel all warm inside. Soon we are joined for a giant group hug by other relatives and friends who had gone before.  Then beaming in magnificent light the Holy Trinity welcomes me home, finally. And as a gift, Sadie, my beloved Golden Retriever, wagging her tail like crazy was sitting at His side. There was no sign of the earthly illness that had weakened her body and dampened her spirit towards her fateful end. Heaven appears to be amazing.

I was happy, excited, and willing to die. It was a great feeling, one that I had never considered before. Death had never been something to look forward to; I always feared it or ignored it. It always seemed so far in the future, or just a nightmare that haunted me in my sleep. But now that I have accepted the fact that it could happen at any time, I no longer dread it, but look forward to it. Driving along 35W S, tears of joy welled up in my eyes and laughter burst in my soul; if any other person would have witnessed me along that drive, they would call me crazy. 

Once I reached the cities, I spent the rest of the day with one of my best friends, Courtney. Since I had already accepted my fate, I was able to fully concentrate on having fun. We chatted, ate the most mouth-watering Hawaiian pizza ever, and laughed a lot. Late that night, another friend joined us for awhile. She was going through a rough time and desperately need someone to talk to. As much as I wanted to listen and help her, I really felt the inspiration to write.

I can feel it, what it’ll be like looking down on my friends as they continue life without me. Perhaps it’s why it’s comforting for me to hear two of my friends chatting away, helping each other without needing me as their common companion. As much as it saddens me to see that they can continue on without me, it also comforts me. Can’t they see that I’m slipping away? Do they realize it’s their last night with me? Maybe it’s best they put more effort towards what they’ll need in the future. I understand. I’m cool with that, because within hours I’ll drift into an eternal state of slumber. Take me home God, take me home. 

I drove Courtney back to her university. On the drive home I was exhausted from the day’s activities and numb from the mix of emotions. All I really wanted to do was jump into my bed, and sleep. This is exactly what I did when I returned to my dorm. Except I couldn’t sleep, I needed to do one more thing. 


Dear Family and Friends,

If you are reading this, then the Lord has taken me home. Don’t worry it is my time and I am no longer plagued with worries or struggling through school. Please don’t cry for me. Know that I love you all and am very grateful for all you’ve done in my life. It’s all the little things that counted. I will miss you and be watching you from above. I am happy to tell you I was greeted at the gate by many people I’ve missed for quite some time: Daddy, Sadie (as enthusiastic as ever), grandparents, and friends. And of course, the Holy Trinity, unexplainable in words, but you’ll all understand some day!

Please divide my stuff amongst yourselves. I sure collected a lot throughout the years! Donate what you don’t want. Mom, you have the rights to all my pictures if you’d like to continue to sell them in my memory. I’d like that.

For my funeral – don’t spend a lot of money. Have it at Our Saviors and please have Pastor Morreim conduct it. Sing some praise songs and one special request: “The Rose” by Bette Midler: Kara and Jamie sing, Matt (obviously) play the piano – for the man who has loved me all along and the one I should have focused more time on, Jesus will be dancing with me to it. Eat yummy food, dance to praise music, and celebrate with me, because that’s what’ll be doing in Heaven.

Always remember to dance in the rain, because it was my favorite simple pleasure while on earth. 

I love each and every one of you and I’ll be watching over you, but don’t do anything too stupid. Let Sera (dog) come to the funeral and have a Heineken for me. 

Love God and Love Others – Yes, it’s truly that simple!

I’ll meet you again at the pearly gates!

All my love,

Sarah Inga


Created: Mar 12, 2011


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