How would you spend your life if you had only 2 minutes and a half left?
“– كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَآئِقَةُ الْمَوْت — Kullu nafsin zaiqatul maut. Every soul shall taste death.”
– Quran, Surah 3 (Al-Imran) Verse №185.
You may wonder how many seconds you can fit in that time: 150 seconds, to be precise.
I will share with you a story of the last 150 seconds of a friend of mine. I will share how we went through many stages of grief in such a short period.
We all have heard about the five stages of grief, definitions extracted from Wikipedia:
- Denial: ”The first reaction is denial. In this stage, individuals believe the diagnosis is somehow mistaken and cling to a false, preferable reality.”
- Anger: ”When the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue, they become frustrated, especially at proximate individuals.”
- Bargaining:” The third stage involves the hope that the individual can avoid a cause of grief. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made in exchange for a reformed lifestyle.”
- Depression: “During the fourth stage, the individual despairs at the recognition of their mortality. In this state, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time mournful and sullen.”
- Acceptance: “In this last stage, individuals embrace mortality or inevitable future, or that of a loved one, or other tragic event.”
I was blessed to be with him in his place in Dakar, Senegal. We have known each other as far as I can remember. I feel like we have known each other forever.
I was blessed enough to be with some of his family members in his home in those last moments of his life. The following events are just my interpretation as I see them unfold before my eyes.
T — 150 SECONDS — DENIAL — The day before, he was having some “Ataya” or Senegalese tea with some of his childhood friends, including myself. Fast forward to the day after.
He is lying in his bed, unable to move and barely speaking. He had been the victim of a stroke the night before. He felt the gravity of the situation. He did not want to go to the hospital.
Sitting in the corner of the room, I can hear the silence. Only the sound of the air conditioner is disturbing that monastic silence.
Our eyes cross over as he looks in my direction. I see his frustration. I hear him telling me: “ I have been a good person, I have been giving to others, I have forgiven, I am doing my best to be a Muslim. Why me, Allah?”
T — 100 SECONDS — ANGER — She puts his hands on her belly. “It is a girl, “Soro,” the Pular word for Granddad, she said. Her daughter-in-law smiles in tears as she is mean toward him. I remember how he wanted to have a granddaughter.
He has been blessed with two sons and two grandsons from his youngest son. Omar, his wife, and their two sons were connected via a virtual TV.
Ali, his oldest son, and his pregnant wife were visiting Dakar at the time of the event. As she was lying his hand on her belly, I could sense the anger knowing that he would never have the opportunity to meet his first granddaughter.
T — 90 SECONDS — BARGAINING — As he tries to speak, nothing comes out of his mouth. I could hear some kind of prayers, surely trying to imagine how wonderful it could be to meet his new granddaughter if he could only live one more week.
Indeed her daughter-in-law was expecting to give birth in the next coming days. As they knew how happy he would be to witness that event, Ali and his wife decided to welcome their daughter to Dakar. However, they did not want that event to be a virtual event for him from Europe.
As he squints his eyes and turns his face and palms to face the sky, I see him bargaining with some higher forces for more time.
T — 60 SECONDS — DEPRESSION — The monitoring machine starts to accelerate.“Doctor, Doctor, please come. He is leaving us,” shouted his wife. I could read in his face that even though he was happy to have them by his side, he was overwhelmed by their presence.
Indeed I remember him always being the kind of person who put kindness first and, above all, a family guy. “I will do my utmost to protect my family, to the best of my abilities, Inshallah!” he shared with me once.
I could imagine him not wanting his family to see him suffer like this because of the pain it could cause them. He is that kind of a person. He is that kind of person.
As the sun is shining through the window, he turns his head to glance at the world he will never experience again.
T — 30 SECONDS — ACCEPTANCE — The machine’s beeping is accelerating. The Doctor enters the room, and there is nothing he can do. He turns his head back to his family. As he scans the faces, I feel like he is putting a smile on us before leaving.
The bed was close to the window where the sun was shining. The bed head was on the left side of the wall on the main door. Most of his family is sitting on the wall, on the right side, opposite the window.
The TV was mounted on the wall facing the bedhead. I was on the opposite side of the family, in the corner between the TV wall and the window wall. As I entered the room, I felt like that was the right spot to be close to my friend and give his family the space so they could live those last moments more intimately.
T — 00 SECONDS — DEPARTURE — I heard my friend last time before the machine stopped beeping. “Ashhadou Ana La Illaha IlalAllah Wa Anna Muhammad Rasulullah!” which translates in English as “I believe that Allah is One and that the Prophet Muhammad (Allah Blesses Him) is His Messenger!” were his last words.
As his family started crying about their loss, I faded back into that body. I have just lost my best friend for life: Me!
That is my answer to how I would spend the last 150 seconds of my life. That is me celebrating my 150th weekly article. I know that it might not be the perfect way to celebrate it. Yet I choose to live by “Memento Mori.” Remembering that I will die is the best way to live.
Thank you to all who take your most precious asset, your time, and for gifting it to me for free. That is the best gift I could ever give. That is the best gift I could ever receive.
So let me ask you the question again:
How would you spend your life if you had only 150 seconds left?
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You can read my previous article on The best way to hit the target of our life is to AIM, right? (Friendly link)
Photo by Jack Sharp on Unsplash