The Night I Died

They say that just before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes. I used to not believe that. I mean how could your entire life be shown to you in an instant and what purpose would it serve if you were going to die anyway. Well, thatís what I used to think, until the night I died. I was fine, and then there I was laying sprawled out on the floor as the last breath of life jolted into my lungs and seeped slowly out. I was still on the floor when the film started to play. It was my life being projected onto the ceiling above me. It started out like old home movies of my youth. I saw my self briefly as a little kid. Memories I didnít even know I had, me as a baby crawling, walking, falling, they all flashed in an instant and then were gone much like when they really happened. Here for one time only and an all too short time at that. I was then watching my childhood from a closer view. I was almost in the film. I could see me riding my bike for the first time and falling again. I was up, I was off, I was going, I was down. Like the roller-coaster that is life, I was fine then I was crying and then all was well again. I saw myself playing with my childhood friends. I saw the good times we had. I saw the bad times we had. I saw all the times we had. I also notice the events that lead to my problems in later life and I wondered why I couldnít have been a little more careful. Then the picture became clearer and I moved further into the film. I saw myself in school and I started to wish this film would end soon. I hadnít liked my time in school the first time around and now I had to repeat it. The strange part of this all was that I seemed to remember every single day of my life, but only certain, random days presented themselves visually. I started to see how my whole life had gone, and how it could all be brought back in an instant. It was in my mind the whole time, I just needed a reason to bring it out. I saw myself move into high-school and I saw my first girlfriend. I couldnít have pictured her at any other time, but there she was standing in front of me. I remembered all the times we had, and the fights, and The Fight. I had seen all the pain and joy before that time and I continued to see the pain and joy after that time. I moved into the dorm at my college for the second time. That is where I first met the girl that was to become my wife. I met her in my ecology class. My last girlfriend had told me that I would go to school and find someone with the same interests as me and that I would be better off. Now I had found her. We first got to know each other while working on a lab report. She had an ability to do exacting research and tests, while I had the ability to write some of the driest, scientific papers ever seen. Which seemed to be exactly what the professor wanted. We hit it off from there. It wasnít long after college that we got married and I was there at the ceremony and the reception again. It was from that day on that I blamed myself for her misfortune. She deserved someone better than me. Life with me was never easy for anyone who knew me. I was a cold, emotionless person for most of my life, and I hated myself for it. So all that was left for me was to make other peopleís lives just as bad. Her life was the worst. I had resorted to yelling at her for most anything, but never the deeply abusive yells, I mean I would yell at her but she always yelled back. We did have good times too. I saw our vacations we took every couple of years. I saw the kids we had and raised. I saw everything we shared, and we shared everything. I was there again the day I took my kids to school for the first time, and I remembered when my dad took me to school for the first time. I then remembered all my teachers, all my classmates, everyone. Everyone I had ever met seemed to come back to me and I was finally able to put faces to all those names and names to all those faces. I saw all my jobs, bosses, co-workers. I saw the jobs I loved, and the ones I hated. In one resounding instant I saw everything my entire life had to offer. My life had been lived, but it had just been lived. I saw what I had done, and it stuck out was all that I hadnít. My life hadnít been meaningless by any means, but it hadnít been meaningful either. I had now seen my entire life, right up to the moment I collapsed on the floor gasping for my last sweet breath of life. In my last second of life, as I watched the film slowly fade before my eyes I thought. I thought why. I thought why me, why now, and why was I seeing all of this. What was the point of my life flashing before my eyes. Was it to show me all the things I didnít do, or to make me appreciate all the things I did. I thought to myself, if I had it to do over again I would try to make it better. I couldnít change everything, but I would try to make life better for those around me. I wasnít the nicest man, but if, just if, I had it to do over again I would make it different. It was at that moment that I gasped and drew in one more breath, I had expelled the last breath of my old life and was now free to begin again. I coughed, and pushed myself up from the floor. My head was rushing and I new my life had just happened again in a blur and I couldnít seem to remember it clearly, nor could I remember how I ended up on the floor, but I could remember one thing. I remembered that I had promised myself that things would be different. I rose to my feet and paused as my head came back and settled in itís rightful place. I walked down the stairs and paused as I looked at my wife again, for the first time and I knew right then that things were going to be different.

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