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them. On the last day of our visit with her and her family,

Our lives come down to the prosaic and quotidian.

she stood at the top of her driveway watching us back out in our rental car. Our eyes locked and we knew it was for

Maybe not always, but often enough that we should take

the last time. She was too sick and I lived too far away.


She sent two emails out to a large group of us, both

People are made up of spiritual qualities, the emotional,

described as her “last.” In the first of the two, her

the human connections, the thoughts and ideas. And

penultimate sentence, the one just before “I love you all”

we’re also made up of the material, the needs of the body.

was this: “I’m glad we got a new kitten.” In the second, a

We spend our lives at work and running errands more

few weeks later, she wasted no words and simply invited

often than we spend them meditating or reflecting. Our

people who lived nearby to come over and “recycle” her

relationships are stuffed with life’s ordinariness as well as

shoes and clothes and jewelry by taking what they could

with its power.

use. And, one last time, “With much love.”

We talk more about where we want to eat than we do about what we want to leave behind. If life is going to

Last moments channel all the worth and weight of a person.

mean anything at all, I suspect we have to find it in the day-to-day, the routine, the ordinary. My mom’s last wish was to drink some Coke. Not because it was the last thing she wanted to do, but because it was the last thing she was able to process cognitively. And in

Last words are sometimes ordinary, impersonal,

her last conscious moments on this earth she got to taste

pragmatic, and surprisingly small in scope. In a study

sweet syrup and bubbly carbonation. Maybe the bubbles

of suicide notes by Dr. John Pestian, “neutral” content is

went up her nose a bit. Maybe the syrup coated her sore

second only to the emotional. Writers left instructions and

throat. As I held the straw to her lips, I hope she saw me

to-do lists. He explained:

and knew how grateful I was to give her some Coke.

Secondarily, what you see most often is these practical instructions. Remember to change

* “Analyzing the Language of Suicide Notes to Help

the tires. Remember to change the oil. I drew

Save Lives.” National Public Radio, Inc., May 15, 2013.

a check, but I didn’t put the money in.

Please go ahead and make the deposit. *

language-of-suicide-notes-to-help-save-lives Kerri K. Morris is a writer and Associate Professor of English. She is the Director of Writing Across the Curriculum at Governors State University. Her blog, Cancer Is Not a Gift, explores living with cancer. She lives in the suburbs south of Chicago and has previously lived in the deserts of New Mexico and the tundra of Alaska. If she could have a different life, she would have chosen to be taller and play point guard for Pat Summitt’s Lady Vols. Instead, she delights in living



Mty winter2018 v7.pdf


Mty winter2018 v7.pdf