The Ultimate Question


Lori asked a question last night, at the dinner table, of all places. It is for me the ultimate question. Although I can answer it quite easily.

Lori asked:

“What would you do if you found out you only had a few days left to live?”

Her own answer, “I’d do something for the environment, leave something good behind.”

Lori you make me proud. And I know that you will go on to make me even more proud. I trust you. I believe in you and I always will.

Here is my answer, an emotional one for me, which is why I didn’t say anything last night.

Dearest Lori,

If I discovered I only had days left to live I would cherish and organise the last days of my life.

I would spend every waking moment with those I love. My children and my husband. I would give you time individually and together. I would hug you all, stroke you and hold you close. I would breathe in your smell. Imprint your smile and your laughter. I would wipe away your tears.

I would tell you how much I love you at least a thousand times.

I would give you little tips of advice. I would brush your hair. I would ask you to sing for me, again and again, ‘Just one last time’.

I would make an all important phone call, Lori. To your dad in Scotland. I would beg him to accept my wish. That you all stay together here in Germany with Papa. Where you’ve all made your lives. And are happy and safe.

I wouldn’t let Papa go to work. I’d keep him by my side. And I’d show him how much I love him. And wish he’d have a happy rest of a life.

I’d spend times with my most loved friends. And ask them to watch over you all in my absence. And between them, do the job I should have done.

And I’d write. For you and for me.

And that’s it. There’s no where I’d want to visit. Nothing new I’d like to try to eat. No record I’d like to beat.

But your question made me think even more.

Death is a huge problem I just can’t get around. It’s something I can’t beat. No matter what I do, it looms.

Most people, Lori do not have those last days to say, “Goodbye.” Most people do not know they are about to die.

My daddy died when I was seven. It left me with a wounded heart. No one ever really talked to me about it. Someone told me not to cry in front of my mother, because I’d only upset her. So I cried alone, lest I upset anybody. My mum never really mentioned him again. It was like one day he was there and the next he was gone.

He died on March 13th 1980. So almost 31 whole years ago. But I still miss him and wonder what would have been.

As a child I often ‘imagined’ his presence. Strange things happened and I attributed those events to him. I thought he was playing with me. Perhaps I created those happenings myself, perhaps he was there. I don’t know – but it doesn’t matter because it pulled me through that awful time.

The first Christmas after he passed, I tried to send him a Christmas card. On the envelope I wrote, “To Daddy, C/o God, In Heaven”. My mother caught me trying to post it (without a stamp) and took it away and wept.

My hope and wish is that I live to see all of my children grow up. To see them enter their adult lives and be there when they have their own children. Offer support and take part in my babysitting duties. I plan to live for a long time and to enjoy my life. But sometimes plans do not go accordingly.

And your question made me think of all the ‘what ifs’ that haunt me and I thought that it is now time to put those ‘what ifs’ to rest. To let go of the panic of leaving my children behind without a goodbye. By writing my goodbye now. So it’s there. And always will be.

Dear Joni, Lori, Aden and Akasha,

It is my time
I’ve had to go
I will no longer say ‘Hello’.

In the meantime
There are a few things
You four should know

I’ve tried to teach you as well as I can
The lessons in life important for man

The first is love
Is true and real
Never be afraid
To show how you feel

The second is laughter
Heals the pain
Lightens your heart
And keeps you sane

The third is learning
Listen and read
Then apply what you’ve learned
Through all your deeds

Next comes instinct
Hone this skill
Do not just listen
To your own will

Five is adventure
Take a chance!
Life is short and will impose its stress
Take a deep breath
And enter…
The wilderness

Discover your passions
Assess your goals
Question your intentions

Run through the snow!

Naked, if it rocks your boat 😉

Take a moment
Before you decide
From your decisions
You cannot hide

Failure is a test
You will not always know
What’s best –
So
Pick yourself up
Dust yourself down
Try once again
With some experience now.

Take care on your journey
Watch out for each other
Accept the sadness caused
By the death of your mother

Let the tears flow freely
Release the sadness
Inside
Until a calmness comes
Then look back on my life

All the happy moments
That we have shared
The fun
The laughter
The tips
The advice

Remember back
But look forward
To the challenges of your lives
Although I may not be with you in person
I still survive

You have my hair
And you all have my nose
Which of you has my extra long toe?
You have my humour
You my passion for food
You own my voice
You, my sense of rejoice.

I am in your heart
You carry me around
When you cut yourself
It’s my blood that runs out

And watch out:
Every once in a while
Perhaps in your children
You’ll catch a glimpse of my smile!

All of my love,
Mama

18 thoughts on “The Ultimate Question”

  1. Ouch. Brave to write all that down. And share it. Such loving advice.

    My fear is more that one of them will die before me for whatever reason.

  2. So beautiful…so much from your heart. Wondering what it would be like if we all lived with such immediacy and intimacy. Thank you for writing this, sarsm.

  3. Abgesehen von den realen Tragödien des Lebens gibt es ein paar Dinge, die mich verlässlich zum Heulen bringen: das ist z. B. Musik wie “Air” von J.S. Bach, “Tears in Heaven” von Eric Clapton, Grönemeyers CD “Der Weg” oder Filme wie “Titanic” oder “Jenseits von Afrika” – und ab heute sicherlich auch “The ultimate question” von Sarah May!

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