Final Verses

© 1999

       The legend goes that each man must write something momentous and beautiful in the moment before death. Having never been an especially eloquent person, I feared that life would drain from me before I was able to write a masterpiece. But I was smart, and I did not want to be thought a fool, so in between visits from caring friends and family who knew not what to say to a dying man, I began to compose.

       I wrote a long, icy epic of how life is like a flower that withers too early . . . I spoke of the way a lover is like a rose, taking the flower away when it is most beautiful and leaving the thorn in a manís finger. I wrote of all of lifeís similarities to the rose, and tried to condense them so that when the time came I would be able to scribble them all before I passed. Because, you see, my work would not be considered true wisdom if it was not truly written when I felt Deathís grip on my neck. So I wrote only in my head, repeating the verses in my dreams.

       People would read my death-inspired poem after I had expired and add it to their wisdom. I would be added to the collection of truth to inspire all people. I waited for death to claim me, to give me a warning so that I could scribble down my masterpiece.

       While I was waiting for my thoughts to freeze over, I failed to notice the unusual warm glow until it was almost too late. It hit me that this was death, a return to the cosmos, not a deadening of spirit . . . and then I saw it all. That life was an unending circle that I was part of, and I was about to be whisked away . . . not to a heaven as I had believed, a sterile, happy joy, but instead to a much more raw joy . . . the beauty of being reborn. My heart sped up in its last moments as I thought I must tell the world of it . . . but the light was already taking me. What about the other verses I had composed? I didnít have time to write them both!

       My hesitation lasted too long. By the time I realized that I should give my true death vision to the world instead of the contrived rose verses, I was already unable to reach for the pen, and all my verses became ghosts.