Several weeks ago, as I retired to bed, I thought upon the day’s achievements and decided that it would be alright if I died in my sleep. Not that I wanted to die in my sleep, of course. But that if I did, my final day would have been a good one on which to end things. I had had a happy and productive day at the office. I had a vigorous and enjoyable workout at my dojo. I had conversed with many friends. I enjoyed time with my family. Not a single word of tension or reprimand had been aired – which as anybody who has raised kids knows, can be a rarity. I gave my kids extended tuck-ins (yes, I still tuck my kids in, even though the oldest is 13. I’ll do it until they tell me to stop) and told them how much I loved them. My wife and I watched some TV together, joked, and when she fell asleep (as she always does – before I do), I told her I loved her, and she told me back. And then, in the quiet dark hours of the late evening, I had done some writing I was proud of, and called it a night.
I lay in bed and thought of our bank balance, of our college savings, of our insurance and decided that things were in as good an order as they ever would be. If I died tonight, my family would miss me. But I had left nothing undone insofar as taking care of them. I had done what I could, and in my heart, I was content, even if only for those few minutes it took between my head hitting the pillow and the rest of me entering the Land of Nod.
When I’m not writing about insurance (or the science fiction and fantasy novels I produce in my spare time), I am a martial artist, and in a recent discussion with a friend, he noted to me a quote from an old samurai text that exhorts the reader to imagine one’s own death daily; whether it comes suddenly and traumatically on the field of battle, or silently and slowly on one’s deathbed. How we go does not matter; that we go is what we must never, ever forget, for when we disentangle our minds from the notion of death, we can then live much more meaningful lives.