Your Dying Words to the World

What would they be? How would you face the known and near end of your life in a letter to the future?

If you are young, you are immortal or at least oblivious. If you have reached the age of putting away childish things–such as the denial of a last day on Earth–then you might find Oliver Sach’s contemplation of his impending death from metastatic liver cancer offers well-reasoned perspectives when the time comes for you to write your own letter to the future.

I have admired the man’s life for some years as a scientist, doctor and writer. Now I continue to admire his death, with great regret and appreciation.

Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer –

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Lovely essay, Fred. I forwarded it to my almost 79 year old husband. At almost 72, I am still too young to be motivated to think about my last months. I do think it needs to be months remaining, not years, before we get serious about wrapping up our lives.