The Window of Thankfulness

It’s not the if, but the how and when.

Death ignores if.

It is only the how and when variables that are in Death’s programming language. Some of us, for our own reasons, have written our own code, manually overriding how and when, ending the program of life by our own hands.

For me, it would be nice to have an immortality call function and stick it in the middle of my source code and run it in an infinite do/while loop, but then I think of how wrinkly and dusty I’d look after two hundred billion cycles. So I’ll just leave the how and when variables alone, hopefully letting them running their subroutines for at least another fifty years.

In the final weeks before my father’s passing from cancer, someone gave me a pamphlet. It consisted of only a few pages, no pictures, and it had blue typeset curiously like those old pop quizzes I had in middle school.

The title of the tiny book began with “What to Expect,” although it did not end with When You’re Expecting. Instead, it informed me of what to expect in the last stages of life. Like a checklist, the few pages consisted of brief paragraphs explaining the different stages, starting with the withdrawal from the external world and ending with… well, you know.

A line from that small copy still resonates in that it stated each person’s death is unique. Some or none of the stages listed may apply to you. My dad, however, the practical man that he was, followed all the stages of this little book as if by instruction. He was a strong man. That last month with him was difficult.

The mini-book also described a stage near the end that I disbelieved when I first read it. It said that there would be a moment of clarity before the final stage of death. Lucidity. A burst of energy and communication. How could that be possible when this man in his deathbed hadn’t spoken for several days? Both his mind and body were shutting down.

Yet, it happened. Happy words came out quick. Awareness fully enjoyed. Prayers done with vigor.

Above all of that. He was thankful.

That window of thankfulness, fleeting like a quick rain on dust-dry land, was a prolonged spiritual moment. It is in that window of time where one gets the chance for final goodbyes, reflection, last words, prayers and thanks. This window depends on the how variable, though. Each person’s death, as the little book claimed, is unique. One may go to the next in a quick instant while another may enter it slowly. The window is only built for you if your how variable is coded for this way of dying.

It’s not the same concept as living like you are dying, which has its own merits (and somehow difficult for me to implement, since I’m still scared of heights). The window of thankfulness is more like rising above ocean water one last time to take in one final sweet breath and giving one farewell wave before plunging back in to look desperately for the big treasure (Heaven, Atlantis, forever sleep, whatever your treasure may be).

If I am ever fated to be coded for the window of thankfulness, I hope to be surrounded by my loved ones so happy words can come out quick, awareness can be fully enjoyed, praying can be done with vigor, and thankfulness is abound.

Whether or not the window of thankfulness waits for you, and you have no idea of what it will be like, we do have at least one given day specifically of thanks that is available for us to practice on.

There is always, always, always something to be thankful for. -- Author Unknown
There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.
— Author Unknown

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