The note above was penned by an eighty-five-year-old man named Robert. One day last month, he drove his car down a steep rural road to look at a pond. When he tried to drive back the way he came, the car rolled off the path and became mired in a ravine.
Robert was unable to walk out of his situation due to back problems that left him only able to get around with the help of a walker. He had no food. The only water he had barely filled an 8 ounce bottle. He honked his horn until the car battery was depleted.
Robert sat there, alone in his car, for two days.
With no food, little water, and temperatures in the upper 90s, he realized things didn’t look good. So he grabbed a pen and began writing on the car’s armrest.
Look closely and you can make a bit of it out. The first—and Robert said the most important—was that he make sure everyone knew it was an accident. Robert didn’t want anyone thinking he committed suicide. He wrote that the car’s wheels spun out. He asked that his family give him a closed casket.
About forty hours later, Robert was found. Turns out that final note wasn’t needed after all. As you can imagine, the whole ordeal changed him. Robert has a new outlook on life. He understands its delicateness. He knows every moment is precious.
It’s a good story with a happy ending. But me, I can’t stop thinking about that note.
What would I tell my family? What would I tell you? What would I say if I could never say anything more? Those questions have preyed on my mind since reading Robert’s story. I figured the only way I could start thinking about something else is to go ahead and write my letter.
So here it is, the last thing I’d ever write:
I don’t know how I managed to get myself in this mess. I think a lot of times you can’t see the trouble that’s coming until it’s on you. This is probably one of those times. I guess I should hurry. I never used to think much about time. Suddenly, time seems pretty important.
To my family, I want to say that the very last thing I want to do is leave you behind. You need to know that as much as I’m ready for heaven, I’m thinking the angels will have to drag me there. But don’t worry, I’ll find me a bench somewhere near the gate and wait for each of you.
To my wife, I’m sorry I was never the man I wanted to be. I’m thankful you overlooked that. Take care of the kids. Raise them to believe like you and fight like me.
To my son, there are few things more difficult in life than knowing how to be a man. I’ll give you a quick summary—work hard, laugh much, pray often. Love dignity rather than money. Face your darkness. Let your word be your bond. You’ll do well in life if you cling to those things. Know that I will always be proud of you.
To my daughter, you’ve taught me more about faith than anyone I’ve ever known. Remember this: we seldom have any choice as to the wars we must fight, we can only elect to face them with honor or cowardice.
To my friends, I know it may appear at times that I prefer silence to speech and solitude to company, but you mended the gashes I had rent into my own heart. Whatever goodness is in me was fostered by you.
I ask that you dispose of my remains as you see fit. I have no preference. Whatever flesh and bone is left behind is not me, it is merely an empty house that God has deemed I’ve outgrown.
Do not mourn, laugh.
Do not look back, look forward.
And last, know that all that separates the two of us is but one stroke of heaven’s eternal clock. Life is but a dream. Death is simply when we wake.