5 hours left

Posted: September 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

My pastor was challenging us as a congregation about our Facebook use.  as usual, he had compelling statistics that made me consider my internet time from new angles.  Then he asked a question that I have revisited from time to time:  “If you knew you only had 5 hours left to live, how much time would you spend on Facebook?”

My short answer to that might be surprising:  Not much, but perhaps a little.  there would probably be some message of hope or challenge or truth that I would want to issue, even if it was just a line or two (and really, WHEN have you ever known me to stop at a line or two, when it comes to written messages?  I save the short stuff for speech!) 

The “5 hour” scenario is a touch one to work out, because it squeezes the logistics so hard.  People I love are more than 5 hours away.  I would have to make some fast decisions and I’d probably spend much of the remaining time with some loved ones tune in via FaceTime or Skype or whatever.  This is, I guess, why my boss calls me “technofresh” – technology is a part of my 5-hours-left plan. 

More interesting and thought-provoking to me is:  if I learned I only had A WEEK left to live, how would I use that week?  In real life, I understand that anything I say now is the mere speculation of one who expects to live for decades yet to come (other than when I try to calculate in the return of Christ – that’s a whole other deal).  One cannot REALLY know what one “would do” until it is a reality, not just an intellectual exercise.  Still, I spent some time on my lunch break today pondering that.  I tried to write out details, but they quickly overwhelmed me – logistics, potential for hurt feelings of whoever didn’t get first billing, etc.  What surprised me most was the power of the emotion that swept over me as I imagined.  WOW.  Still, I know this many details:

Would my job matter?  Actually, yes it would.  Or, more accurately, the people there would.  While I probably wouldn’t do even one more work-related task, I WOULD go by work to have one last conversation and hugs with quite a number of people there.  I would want to thank and encourage them – one last chance to be a blessing.  For real.  Yes, that is how much I love the people with whom I work.

Would I spend it all with people?  ALMOST all.  I would probably want to tell NO ONE for the first day, so that I could hide out and have some important, focused, unhurried praying-and-writing time. I don’t think there would be another single minute alone, other than the bathroom, once the news was out.  So I’d use that day well, with the Lord, so that I might use the other 4 to the maximum with people.

Would my writing matter?  I would FOR SURE want to leave my words, and yes, at some point I would want to post some of them on Facebook – because though it is ridiculous in many ways, FOR ME it is a pretty cool communications tool and a mission field, customized for easy access to many lives I would not otherwise have the time or resources to touch at all.  I would want to write something on each of those 5 days. 

Would I sleep?  Yes, as little as possible, but yes.  I wouldn’t want to be incoherent with exhaustion.  I would sleep holding someone – husband, child, grandchild, sibling, niece, parent, friend – SOMEONE every minute that I slept.  And I’d probably be touching someone every waking moment too, for that matter.   Touch is my number one love language and baby, I’d speak it continuously.

Would I tell people I was in the “final 5”?  Yeah.  After that first day.  Though it would mean dealing with their grief, I wouldn’t want to leave anyone with the regret that they didn’t take the time with me because they didn’t know it was their last chance.  I’d tell. 

What about pictures?  I probably would have zero patience for much “posed” stuff, but I wouldn’t care if loved ones were catching it on video or audio or whatever.  That part would be about letting people have something to review later. 

Would I go to church, if one of the 5 days was Sunday?  Oh yeah.  For sure!  I love my church family!  It would be a PEOPLE decision, to be honest – I’d be hanging out with God full-time soon enough. 

Are there things I’d say that I am not saying now?  Yeah, probably.  I’d probably get more blunt pretty fast (in a loving way.)  Does that mean I need to be more blunt now?  I don’t know.  Maybe.  Guess I’ll have to pray about that. 

All of this is, of course, pointless.  The intellectual exercise presumes something that just doesn’t happen, this business of knowing exactly how long one has to live.  I could slip on the stairs and be gone in an hour.  I could live to be 100.  I could be lucid and clear to the end.  A head injury could take that away from me before I sleep tonight.  Scripture mentions this, but we are pretty quick to presume that we are going to live the amount of time that makes sense to us, aren’t we?

This weekend, may you love like you don’t have so many tomorrow’s left.  And may I, too.

  1. Gay Ryland says:

    Karen, this was great reading. When my husband passed away we knew how much longer he had to almost the day. The doctors told us it would be six weeks and it was. Our last week together was wonderful sharing memories of our marriage and just talking about my future without him. We were able to share with each other until the morning of his passing when he went in to a coma. It gave me peace to be able to share our live and tell each other good-bye. It was still sad but I wouldn’t trade that last week for anything. Not many have that much time to share that much before they pass away. I feel very blessed that I had a husband that stayed strong, for me till the end. Even after though I thought of so much more we could have talked about in his last five days.

  2. linda says:

    A know Karen….it does make you think about what is important enough to you that you would take one of your last 5 days to do it!! Who would you spend each day? Where would you go and what would you do? How would you feel?

    A pretty good challenge I think!


  3. strengthreliance says:

    Just a few days ago, I had to, unfortunately, put my dog down. She had been with us for 10 years and was an integral part of our family. I really miss her, but the realization of all the cruft that passes for true relationships and real life is incredible. In the days leading up to this decision, one of the most important things I did was to call my friends and talk with them.

    I want to live today and all the today’s after it as though tomorrow might not come.

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