We all want to do something significant. We want to leave a part of us behind for everyone else to remember us by. We buy all these things and then we write a will about who’ll get what. That’s the part of us we leave behind for them and they’ll leave behind to their kids and for generations this will be passed around and you will be known as the person to whom it belonged. You will be remembered through that object.
I was at an Andy Warhol exhibit in Singapore a few years ago. I loved the art, the creativity, the small facts I got to learn about him. Spread across many different walls were quotes. His quotes. As a writer, I love reading quotes and thinking about what it might have meant to that person when they said it but when I read this particular quote, I didn’t care. I didn’t care what it meant to him or what he was thinking when he said it because this quote was all about me. It spoke to me in a way that I can’t explain. It was every thought I had ever had about death – My death. Andy Warhol had read my mind before I even existed.
Death is one of the most commonly occuring thought processes in my mind. Last night, right before I drifted off to sleep, I couldn’t stop thinking about the number of people that would be affected should I die that very second. My close family is a given and I can’t stop them from feeling miserable about it but the outsiders. The friends I’ve made and the people I affect. The ones that choose to love me and the ones I presume our affectionate towards me, though I may be wrong. How many of them will actually have a day when they pick up their phones just to realize I’m not alive for them to call? How many will miss me? This was the best thought I have had in a very long time.
I hate to admit this to anyone because it always rubs off the wrong way – I’m a control freak. If something is a certain way, it has to be that way. If you make a plan to meet me, you better show up. Do not call me in the very last minute and say “I can’t make it.” I’ll understand. But I will also be so so annoyed because that just completely wrecked my day. A few years ago my brother and I were supposed to go birthday shopping. He ditched me last minute. Even today, I always call him ten minutes before I leave to ensure he’s going to make it. And it’s difficult to find a friend that is not annoyed by this. Someone who understands and accepts this part of you.
They say a friend is the only person who doesn’t judge you for your choices and sticks with you no matter what and I got to realize exactly who they were in my life last night and I felt bad. Because when I die, I affect some of the kindest people I’ve known. Is that really what I want?
This is why I think suicide is selfish. It’s not cowardly. It’s not stupid. It’s selfish. When a person decides to take his own life, he is only thinking about himself. He is only thinking about ending his misery. He doesn’t stop to think just how many people around him, how many loved ones will suffer for the rest of their lives because he chose not to care about anyone but himself. They will live forever wondering why they didn’t see. Why they didn’t help. Don’t you think Robin Williams’ daughter wonders that? His friends? His family? His colleagues?
A long time ago, I had this plan – When I’m old and done with all my responsibilities, I want to throw a party. A big one to invite everyone that’s ever known me. And if any of them ever wanted to write a euology, they can write one and read it to me at that party because seriously, what’s the point of saying nice things to me once I’m dead? So I just want them to read it. And I’ll say goodbye and I’ll take a little bit of the money I’ve earned in my life, pack my bags, erase or throw away any object that could remind the people that love me that I’m no longer there and just leave. They won’t know where I am. They won’t know if I’m alive or dead. I’d have vanished. Like Andy Warhol said he’d like to do.
Because we can’t live in fear. We can’t keep away from the ones we love, the ones who love us just because we’re afraid of the scar we’ll leave behind. We can’t not make memories in fear of those incredible moments turning into nightmares someday. But there is something we can do :
We can stop spending our times accumulating materialistic things and instead just care and be compassionate. We can learn to be kind and show others what living can truly mean. We can save something that five generations wouldn’t just pass around but would talk about. Would want to live upto.
Because the things you leave may rot and fade but the memories and life lessons – they’re here to stay.