‘I don’t write fiction, I write lies about the truth.’
About last words
These are not my last words, they may very well not even be the last words I will write about last words. But then again, who knows, it really seems like most people just pop off or get rubbed out in a willy-nilly fashion with barely anytime to blow a kiss or squeak an outraged farewell.
At my age the thought of death colors my thinking – everything I say out loud or in writing has to be both pithy and profound, though perhaps a pre-post life copy editor could provide the appropriate corrections – ‘What he meant to say by that was…’ Perhaps hell begins by someone formally educated, yet clueless, correcting you with a verbal boot as your ass flies out the doorway between the known and the unknown, fingernails clawing for a chance at rebuttal.
My last words have been left everywhere— sometimes in things said, sometimes in words written. Last words are what you find in retrospect when putting the puzzle back together – people who know and love you will search them out by looking inward to their relationship with you to find out what they think you might have said, and they try to find the words and actions that support what they think you might have meant by them. Even in goodbyes, people see what they want to see and usually it’s themselves.
It’s like conspiracy’s theories found on the internet, only loving instead of toxic, but maybe toxic too.
An old girlfriend once told me after a lengthy unexplained absence, “If you had wanted to find me, you would of.” She was right, she was always right, though I still miss her and morphine and smoking in about the same way and same amount.
I was driving mid-morning from San Jose to Newman to see my daughter and grandsons yesterday – the sun was apoplectic orange and the air a smoky burnt flavor, with just a tangy sweetness of meat around the edges, I thought of last words.
(I also thought of lost words, but that was different and not really germane to this essay, but I thought you should know that there were connections that I considered including -- obvious connections.)
Before I left San Jose, I had a premonition that this would be my last trip. To be fair, this was the same premonition I’ve had a hundred times before. I’d like to tell you that this one was different, but it wasn’t – just a plain old regular one – enough for a short note left next to my computer, “Love you, and thanks for all the fish.” I signed it, Mike.
I also penned an XO next to the grocery shopping list on the way out the door. I didn’t sign this because then it would make it real and I might have to explain myself later in an embarrassing way, and because it was a god damned grocery list.
In the past, I’ve left ear cleaning sticks next to the front door, cryptic notes in my back pack --I once shoved a crumpled pack of Kool cigarettes under some one’s windshield wiper. ‘This ‘death thing is a coming’ has happened many times and I have an obvious need to say goodbye while having the last word at the same time – but not the need to be understood in any rational way.
I’m tempted to just start a running list of last words, maybe with an excel worksheet to organize it, or perhaps just a cliff notes summary of my last word lists. The problem is: Just as Oklahoma adding another state flower to its official state flower made them have no state flower, having many last words means having no last words, just a bunch of words with a theme, which is different.
So, as I look around, my last words are everywhere, just pick some like in a top ten list or a variable jumbles in a magician’s hat. All I really know is that I’m one of the luckiest men who has ever lived. I have loved and lost, been in pain and fixed, and very little of it was me making the right decision or doing the right thing. I can walk, have hair and complete long sentences – I’m way ahead of the game and at last I know it.
For the record, my last words will be, “Thank you.”