Before starting I need to clarify the question. Do I assume a year’s grace as for Deborah? Am I retired or in employment? Am I comfortably enough off?
If I have a year’s grace and am already retired, all I think I can do is live life with slightly more intensity than before. My ordinary social life does not include concern about the fact that I am going to die. So I can’t tell anyone else except my closest: This to avoid the creation of a barrier of deception which would in any case be insecure. Also I should begin to put in place important practical arrangements for the dying stage. When that comes, that’s the time to tell.
I don’t have a bucket or other list. In fact, we all should recognise that we have an unspecified period of life grace followed by an unspecified period of dying. Is this not really the same formula as the one that Deborah was responding to: It’s just that in her case the time periods were less uncertain and probably shorter. Whatever the circumstances then, the big question for me is whether I will feel content to die: Will I feel that I have lived a sufficient life, or spent my time in the wings waiting for a cue to come on? I’m not going to be able to change the facts of that to any significant extent in my period of grace. More likely I would spend some time reviewing and reinterpreting my story to produce the desired answer.
I would spend as much time as is practical visiting old friends and haunts. I would want to climb a mountain or two, selected in terms of character and my history rather than size. I wonder if I would get satisfaction from some craft activity. Too late to learn a lot, but worth a try. I would expect to seek and find other simple sensual pleasures, quiet rather than hedonistic. And that’s it, I think. Is that all there is?
The Louisville waterfront from Indiana: a key section of the novel takes place here.
‘I have no wish to sky dive or to swim with dolphins. I like my life and if this were the last year or the thirty from last year, I think I would live it in the same way. Of course the passing of all the lasts – seasons, meetings, sporting fixtures, sunsets – would give the year unimaginable, and often unbearable, intensity.’
Isle of Skye.”
“As I get older and think the end is closer, I intend to follow my instincts and desires more and quicker – not waiting for the future because there is a lot less of it for me.”
“Swim with dolphins.
Live in a camper van.
Yoga retreat for a month, with detoxing and swimming in the sea!
Sort out all the stuff in the drawers (junk) and streamline and become a minimalist.”
“2014 was my dad’s last year. He too had a life sentence similar to Deborah’s, and he took eight of us in the camper van to Italy for a month.
His last (unrealised) wish was to go for a cycle.
I think he’s a great example.”
“Given notice that I had limited time left, I would seek to visit family and friends I hold dear. If physically able, I would travel to places I have longer to see like the Taj Mahal or cherry blossom in Japan with my daughter. I would again go paragliding or finally take the plunge and do a bungee jump from the cliffs at the original bungee jump in New Zealand, having wimped out the first time I visited it. Above all, I would stick with my nearest and dearest most of the time.”
“My first thought is that we all only have one year – at least most of us don’t know that we have more; we may have only one day. And I do feel that we should probably all live life as if there is only one year left anyway.
I think I would just continue as always. Maybe my life is how I want it – family and garden and doing my art work – c’est la vie.”