Had an extremely busy day at work today while I was working but somehow managed to squeeze in Yum Cha for lunch and afternoon tea at work. I think it was having to move desks in the morning that set me back. I feel like I’ve recently discovered a zest for life or maybe it’s a phase I go through often and this is just one of many rediscoveries before I settle into routine again. I think what got me thinking about life and living it with more fulfilment is death, ironically. Just finished watching a really sad movie called My Life without Me by Isabel Coixet which is about a 23 year old woman who has two young girls aged 6 and 4. She lives in a trailer at the back of her mother’s house with her husband and her girls and has a poor yet happy life. When she finds out she has a tumour and will die in about two months, she is shocked yet goes about dying in a matter of fact sort of way. Sitting down in a local café she sets about making a list in her child-like dropped-out-of-school-pregnant-at-seventeen hand writing. She sits at the table making a list of things to do before she dies.
– Tell my daughters I love them. Several times a day.
– Find Don a new wife who the girls like.
– Record birthday messages for the girls for every year until they’re 18.
– Go to Whalebay beach together and have a big picnic.
– Smoke and drink as much as I want.
– Say what I’m thinking
– Make love with other men to see what it’s like.
– Make someone fall in love with me.
– Go and see Dad in jail.
– Get some false nails (and do something with my hair)
It’s heart breaking in how realistic she is about her death and her only gift she can give her family is not telling them about her tumour to save them the pain of worrying and waiting around in hospital corridors. She pretty much manages to achieve everything on her list and lives life to the best of her ability, standing in the rain feeling each drop on her face, breathing it in through her pores. She falls in love with a broken man and heals him as she discovers what it is to love someone else, after marrying the first boy she ever kissed. She makes her daughters pancakes and witches hats and roars like lions with them as she sees them off at school and tells them how much they mean to her, and she even meets a lovely lady who’s moved in next door called Anne as well, who loves her girls and plays with them like they are her own. In sewing up her life and making it easier for the people she leaves behind, you can’t help crying over the injustice of it all.
At 23, I can’t imagine having kids and being a wife and a mother. And at this point in my life, I don’t want it, maybe five years from now. But if I was to die in two months, there is so much more that I would wish I’d done already. If I knew I was going to die in a week, I’d let down my guard and smoke that first joint, go away for the weekend with that guy who’s got bad news written all over his face, ride a motorbike, die my hair blue, fly to Paris and back for the hell of it and find out what happens next on Mindy Project! It’s funny how we put off the things we want to do, to do what’s right, to do what’s important, to do whats appropriate at our age. Anne had everything I could possibly want – a husband who loves her, two beautiful girls, and yes she lives in a trailer and works night shifts but she has everything I could want if I were to die tomorrow. But its strange that considering, assuming, that I’m going to live a long and healthy life, I am quite ready to put off the things that I want, for 5 years at least, so I can work, travel, explore the world, and build myself up into the person I want to be, the person I want someone to love me for.
Listening to Anne recording birthday messages for her daughter for each birthday until they are adults had me sobbing like a kid but it got me thinking about who I’d leave messages for, what I’d say to them, and the things I’d want to tick off my list before I die. I think the scariest part, about leaving home, and being so far away – once you become more independent and self-sufficient, is thinking of what could happen while you’re not there. I have a terrible imagination, it’s as much a gift as it is a curse. And there are times when I find myself crying uncontrollably, because I’ve had a dream, or daydream, or even just watched a movie in which a boy has a car accident, or a mother is in hospital or the dad has a heart attack and I think of my own family and it kills me even more because I’m so far away. I don’t know that it would make much of a difference to their survival rate if I was in the same country/city/house, but it makes a difference to me. Being away, makes you more afraid, of what you might miss while you’re gone. The good and the bad, the laughter and the pain.
At 23, Anne has everything that is truly important, and none of the things that I have spent my energy trying to achieve. Which kinda brings me to question my own priorities but I think I’d like to err on the side of caution and hope that I die at a ripe old age. I think the worst age to die would be between twenty 25 and 30. Life is so full of promise, of hope, there is so much you have achieved and so much more in store for you. You are too young to watch your children grow up, you don’t know if they will even remember the feel of your face, the way your hair smelt and your warmth as you held them. You are too old to have not impacted as many lives as you have, to have not touched someone and made memories and let someone build their hopes and dreams into your own, your lives a foundation together. There is so much more I want to do before I die, so much I want in this lifetime. Like the softness of my babies lying on my chest, breathing into my neck with that beautiful baby smell, family holidays, a husband who loves me for who I am and shares the same dreams, watching my kids get spoilt by my parents and my brother. I think I’d just be so angry, just be filled with anger, if I didn’t get to do all these things before I die.
So here’s to life, and living it simply, and doing the things you have to do, as well as the things you want 🙂