Monday, May 23, 2016

If You Had Forty Minutes Left to Live, What Would You Say?


Story Corps is a project of NPR. Two people sit in a booth with 40 minutes to ask each other the questions they’ve always wanted the answers to. Snippets of the interview are played on NPR; the entire interview is cataloged at the Library of Congress.

Each session has a facilitator, the facilitator’s job is “bear witness” to the conversation. The facilitator’s job is to encourage people to jump in and begin with the hard question.

Today, if you would, allow me to be the facilitator. Let me ask you to consider: If you had 40 minutes left to live, what would you say? Would you need to spend a portion of that 40 minutes giving details about passwords and bank accounts and where to find a copy of the life insurance policy? Or have those things already been squared away?

Would you be able to spend your 40 minutes repeating, “I love you. I love you. I love you” while stoking hair and caressing faces over and over again?

Some people might consider this exercise morbid. Some might consider it poignant. For me, the question: If you had forty minutes left to live, what would you say? came on the heels of hearing about the death of a friend’s son. The question hit close to home.

Because that question can be asked another way: If you had forty minutes left to love, what would you do?


I know what I would do. There would be no prepared speeches or formal words. I’d stop everything and I’d listen. I’d say “yes” to another painful game of Candy Land. I’d say yes to one more book. I’d be less impatient about the length of time it takes to get on two shoes. I’d say yes to more snuggling, more canoodling, more running barefoot in the grass.

I’d take more pictures. I’d be in more pictures. I’d cede control of the pancake turner, even knowing that part of the meal was going to end up on the floor. I’d laugh more, I’d dance more, I’d look into eyes more, even when I’m typing or doing the dishes or trying to walk out the door.

I’d be less upset that there is often a +1 in my bed, that they like to clomp down the hall in the my heels (and never put them back), that they like to lounge on me like I was built to be a recliner and not a body.

That seems like an awful lot to do, to ask to have happen in 40 minutes and maybe it is if you really only had 40 minutes left on this earth.

But what if you spread it out through the week? That’s 40 more minutes of yes each week. The math works out to less than 6 minutes a day.  


I can give 6 more minutes today, can you?

1 comment:

  1. You are so good at getting things done you would do it all in 40 minutes. Good reminder to cherish loved ones and the small things in life. Love you Jessica.

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