My Last Words

From Ikon’s event ‘The End’ at Greenbelt Festival 2013. By Shirley McMillan.

I

My last words will be whatever you first remember of me when I am gone from you forever.

There are things that I foreground in my life in an attempt to manipulate my legacy, and I don’t think that this is wrong. I want those who have known my darkness to find it easier to reflect on my light when I am gone, so that perhaps some of the light will remain. I want the lessons that have been hard won in my life not to go missing whenever I do, so I write them down for my daughter, and I write them into poetry and novels.

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy about me, I want people to meditate on such things, and to this end I have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a blog, and when I reflect on my mistakes in public I am hoping that the legacy will be that good people, such as myself, reflect on their mistakes in public. There will be no vicar searching for words to say at my funeral, because words are what I leave behind, and I set out the best ones like books about art on a coffee table, as if those are the ones I choose most often from day to day.

There is much said about the falseness of such an attempt to present the best of ourselves, but I don’t think it’s wrong. I am making it easier for those I love to feel that I haven’t really gone. I will still be there. The words on my pages are the same yesterday, today and forever.

II

My last words might be silenced.

What if my words get lost? Or worse, misinterpreted? What if the lessons I learned are not the ones my daughter needs to learn? Who do I belong to when I am not here any more? If the words that I left were altered, then I would disappear for good. It would truly be the end of me. It would truly be the end.

III

My last words are nothing. Whether I spoke them, or not. I have no way to live on, because I am not living. The words are out of my mouth, out of my mind, and I will not be there to claim or explain them. All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, and they are lost forever, and their words are lost forever. Their words are lost forever.

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