I am surprised but I just about if not actually cry every time I read this. I am pretty proud of this poem.
If I were dying tonight,
Lying in my bed with plastic tubes and half-filled bottles
on the small table nearby
and bedpans and oxygen there to diminish any shame,
Perhaps forcing my breaths
with the strength of a desperate parent
who implausibly and frantically lifts two tons
of mangled steel off a broken daughter—
If I were dying tonight and I wished to tell you
What will astonish you,
I would tell you this:
Be sure to notice white flowers in the moonlight,
Because the softened glow is like no other.
Appreciate the lingering scent of garlic on your fingers,
Because healing is possible from that alone.
Tell the truth when it matters least
Because then you will be sure there is another honest person in the world.
Always spend the extra money for dimmers
Because light that builds in intensity and then gently fades is
good for your spirit.
Over and over, ask yourself, “What is the lesson here?”
Because then you will forever be a student and never a victim
Never believe for a moment that the world is going to hell
Because you only need to love outside yourself to know better.
If I were dying tonight, I would tell you all this
Because astonishment is brethren to curiosity,
Which leads to observation,
And finally appreciation.
If I were dying tonight, perhaps there would only be minutes,
Perhaps only seconds,
To tell you that I will leave with all the love
I have ever felt, and ever given.
I will take it all with me, tucked under my angel wing—
The accumulation of grace from every breath I have ever taken.
Here’s what’s astonishing: I will also leave all that love behind,
It will be imbedded in my daughter’s stunning light and my partner’s quiet
It will guide my friends and coworkers when the layoff comes.
My brother will remember how I tried to do my share
And Joey will find someone else like me to help him tame his fears.
Even the woman at the grocery store that day I let her go ahead of me—
will remember how we were both comforted from that simple act.
If I were dying tonight, I would also tell you
That within, under, because of, and from the little moments
Comes all the wonder and astonishment you could ever hope for.
The little moments that aren’t so little.
I would tell you to let those moments astonish you.
I would tell you this because it is all you need to know.