(Please visit Patti Digh at 37 Days to read what others have written in answer to this question, and to learn of its origins, and of course to read Patti's own wonderful work.)
Here is what I think: that I would have to wade in the ocean one more time. Here is what I cannot know: that I won’t be stung by a jellyfish or step on something sharp. Or eat a bad bit of fish and spend Days 6 through 9 in serious gastric distress.
I would call my favorite people in from near and far, to gather them around me one more time. Here is what I cannot know: that they may all be away for the summer, or not answering email, or on sabbatical, or enjoying radio silence.
Or they may be too broke to travel. I can’t know.
I can’t know that the basement won’t flood on Day 22, or the dying elm in the back yard won’t pick Day 9 to collapse across the garage.
I can’t know that Mom may die on Day 14, her own 37 days begun two weeks before mine.
The best poem I will ever write may emerge on Day 4. Or it might have been written last year, and sits now in a notebook, awaiting rediscovery. It may wait forever.
I can’t know.
On Day 31 I may drive to the store for cat litter, and wait through two traffic light cycles in order to make my left turn. I may try to not be annoyed at the delay, the ever-so-slight delay that results in my crossing paths with an old friend – someone I had forgotten about, someone I had not called to gather around me. She is coming out of the store as I am going in, and she is delighted to see me, and we stop to talk.
Thirty minutes later, we are still talking.
The encounter fills my heart with great joy. Had I not sat so long at the traffic light, I might have missed her. Had I sent someone else for cat litter – how mundane a chore, with only one week to live! – I would have missed her for sure.
I can’t know.
The ants may ruin my picnic. A hummingbird may grace it. Day 26. The car may get a flat. The car may get me to a Patti Griffin concert. Day 13.
There is a fat check in the mail for me. It will arrive on Day 38.
There is a shape in the clouds: it looks like a bunny. Do you see it? Look now, before it’s gone.