“Text me if you’re dying…”
Those were my husband’s words to me as we parted the morning after I experienced the worst of a series of sleepless nights due to my terrible cold. Somehow I found them comforting.
I guess I wasn’t dying after all. Or at least I’d die with the pleasure of knowing he’d suffer tremendous guilt, recalling his last words to me.
The night before, as we had been preparing for my fifth night in a row tormented by an pernicious cold that in its most recent movement had spread to my lungs, I suffered a non-productive, intensely painful coughing episode that left my lungs burning. The burning sensation lingered long after. The cough medicine, apparently ineffective, made me feel woozy and nauseated but did not subdue the powerful coughing jags. And the overall effect was so bizarre I felt scared.
“I think I’m dying,” I told my husband.
“I’ll wake you up if I hear the death rattle,” he comfortingly told me, rolling over for a good night’s sleep.
I merely lay there, contemplating what I would leave unaccomplished if, indeed, the death rattle sounded from my lungs that night. I found my mind running over recent events and conversations. The graduation ceremonies of my seniors. Their thank-you speeches where I seemed to be most remembered as sarcastic. (Me? I prefer “witty” and “sensitive,” thank you very much.) One senior’s eloquent closing remarks of “Mrs. Dagen, you always told us that you wanted to write a book some day. Maybe you already have. Maybe each one of us is a chapter.” E-mailed advice on writing a novel from a friend who was in the final stages of his first book. Our headmaster’s keynote speech, wherein he played an excerpt from “Schindler’s List,” when Oskar Schindler realized he could have saved more of his Jewish workers from Nazi persecution.
I thought about getting up (as I wasn’t sleeping, anyway) to write a blog post titled “Dear Lucas” (to the senior who had claimed I had already written a book by way of teaching).
I hope you were right.
Love, Mrs. Dagen
Because, like Schindler, I realize how much more I could have done. If each of my students were a chapter in a book, I would have planned, shaped, edited and perfected my teaching more. (I would have made sure my students knew the definition of sarcasm and that they didn’t picture me when they saw the word.) I would have started that novel. (And I would not have let my spring cleaning wait until summer.) In short, I would have wasted less time. I would have focused more on God, less on the small stuff, certainly less on myself. And I would have done more.
Eventually, I drifted off to sleep, and while I awoke still sick, I awoke, alive for another day, at least.
It is not likely I will have to text my (witty, not sensitive) husband to let him know I am dying. It seems I have time to do more. I pray I may.