Kent Bernhardt: The last day
You wake up at around 7 a.m. It’s a day just like any other. The sun’s rays shine through the bedroom window. You hear the familiar sounds of morning — birds singing and maybe a lawn mower in the distance.
There’s only one difference.
Beside you, there is a note from God. It informs you that today is your last day on Earth.
The note explains that at precisely sundown, you will leave this earth. You and only you will know this. You can’t tell anyone else. The day – this last day on earth – is yours to do with as you please.
What would you do with this day?
I thought about this scenario recently. What if you were granted the gift of knowing this is your last day on earth?
I suppose the natural temptation would be to dismiss the note as a prank, or to spend some time researching its validity. Yet something deep within you tells you it’s real.
Panic? No. I’ve always known this day was coming. I’ve simply been given the gift of knowing it’s today. Or is it really a gift? I conclude that it is.
As for matters eternal, my faith is on solid ground. That was settled long ago. I did nothing to deserve or earn that. It was simply given. I won’t spend the day worrying about that. I’m already grateful.
I will start the day with a four egg omelet. No reason to watch my cholesterol or waistline now. I love eggs; always have. Bacon will be nice too. The thought crosses my mind that the first thing God will say to me is I might have lasted longer if I had skipped the four egg omelet. That makes me smile.
Surprisingly, I will smile a lot today. I’ll also call in sick today. They’ll understand tomorrow.
I can tell you what I won’t do with my last day. I won’t watch TV, go to the movies, worry about what’s going on in Washington D.C., or argue with anyone about anything.
I won’t jump on an airplane to some exotic location that “I always wanted to see before I die.” I did all my living and loving right here, and this is where I want to be when I leave. Besides, who in their right mind wants to spend even a minute of their last day in an airport.
I’ve decided that one thing I want to do is write a few notes. I want to mend some old fences before I leave, and settle some past differences that were never worth arguing about anyway. What a waste of time conflict has been. Why can I see that so clearly now?
I also want to leave notes to the special people in my life. No long flowery letters, mind you, just simple thanks for the ways they touched my life, made me feel loved, and allowed me love them. There are so many people I could send these to, but I’ll choose just a few.
Mid-afternoon, I’ll make one last trip to College Barbeque for a cheeseburger to go. Or maybe I’ll have one more of my beloved toasted pimento cheese sandwiches.
And I’ll wash it all down with one last ice cold Cheerwine in a bottle. It has to be in a glass bottle.
I’ll jump in the car and drive a few miles to my hometown of Faith. I’ll take a longer route through the country this time, just to appreciate God’s beautiful handiwork.
No air conditioning today. I’ll roll down the windows and turn the music up loud. I’ll sing along with every song.
I’ll walk around the town and take one last look at the streets where I played as a kid. I’ll park my car at Faith Elementary school and take the leisurely walk home from school. I’ll think of my good friends and the wonderful time I had growing up there.
I’ll let the memories wash over me. And again, I’ll smile and be thankful for gift of the life I have known; the joy, the pain, and everything in between.
I’ll return home, again through the country, and I’ll choose a beautiful place to watch the sunset. For the first time, I’ll soak in every vibrant color. I’ll bask in its warmth. And then….
Why in the world would I choose to write something like this, you may be wondering. It’s too morbid to even consider. No one likes to think about their last day on earth.
But maybe there’s a better question. Why don’t we live every day like it’s our last?
Why don’t we appreciate the simple gift of life around us? Why don’t we thank God every day for that? Why don’t we mend those fences so long in need of repair, and tell those we love how much they mean to us? Why don’t we roll down the windows and turn the music up loud?
Besides — for all we know, today may be that day.
Kent Bernhardt lives in Salisbury.