Saturday, March 25, 2017

Final Assignment

She had reached the last chapter of the workbook. The recommendation had been to allow for at least 6 months to work through all of the items. She had done it in two. Part of it was that she had always been an over achiever, she liked being faster than everyone else. Doing things quicker, it made her feel accomplished. Of course part of why she was such an over achiever was because she had always been a procrastinator as well and had put off starting the workbook for as long as she felt she could. But she hadn’t ever been worried about getting it done. She would have finished it even earlier except there were things that she had had to wait on. Group work. She had always hated group work. If it had just been her she could have had it all done in a week.

Which was about how much time she had to finish it now. Which really should be more than enough time. After all the last chapter was only two tasks. She knew that because she had looked ahead. They advised against it in the foreword of the book. Work through it in order. Don’t skip ahead. Handle each task in turn. Don’t get overwhelmed. But she had been a back of the book peeker her whole life. Not about to change now.

So she had one assignment with two tasks left to do. Then she would put the workbook and the accompanying documents in the official, postage not included, mailing tube and send it all off for her final report. Just one more chapter to go. One last assignment to complete. She was sure she had done everything else exactly right. Over achiever, remember? She flipped to the front of the book and ran her finger down the chapters like a check list. Done, done, done, done, done…yep. She had done them all. And now it was just this last chapter. One more assignment. One last easy thing to complete. Easy enough to do. Just open the book and start.

She was really thirsty though. And a snack wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Proper hydration and nutrition were important right? No sense starting on an empty stomach. It only made sense. She made her way in to the kitchen. When she opened the refrigerator and saw the empty shelves and spotless interior she had to laugh. It had been the second to last assignment after all. Clean out the fridge. If she wanted a snack she was going to have to go out and get one. And that was probably stalling a bit too much.

She went back in to her office and opened the workbook.

“If you could choose, what would your last sentence be before you died?”

That was the chapter header.

Tasks to complete in this assignment:

Using list of contacts from Chapter 2 write a brief note to each of them saying goodbye. Make it one or two sentences only. This should not be a repeat of the Chapter 3 notes. (Chapter 3 had been instructions and bequeathed items, as she only had 3 contacts and very limited items it had not taken her very long to complete). This should not be a repeat of Chapter 4 burial and services instructions. Each note is simply a time to say goodbye. The benefit of a short note is ease of remembrance for the recipient.

At this point she looked at her bulletin board. She had pinned her collection of notes received there. The first one she received she had memorized. The second as well. Now there were 43 notes on the board. She only had to write 3 herself. There weren’t many people left to send them to. The notes she wrote would be sterilized before being sent off to their intended recipient. They were pretty sure the virus couldn’t live on paper anyway, but just to be safe they would do whatever it was they do with the paperwork to make it safe.

As if any of them were safe.

She had thought she was going to be okay. For a very long time she was. There was something to be said for being antisocial after all. Her extroverted friends, notes 1-20 on the board, dropped like flies right at the beginning. Her introverts took much longer. And now she had 3 left. Three goodbye notes to write to people who would then have one less note to write themselves.

“If you could choose, what would your last sentence be before you died?”

This was the final assignment. Three notes to others and then her last words. They were memorializing them all for any possible future generations. Future generations. The more optimistic believed there would be survivors. She wasn’t sure anymore. Would there be a new Adam and Eve? Or were they all Lilith? The end of the line.

The notes to her contacts went quickly. She had received so many of them herself that she knew at this point what to say. What would help. Or what seemed to hurt the least. “I love you. Thank you for being in my life. Try not to be scared.” That was it. Each note got the same message. She thought about personalizing them, but those were the true basic lines. She loved them. She was grateful for what she had been given with her time with them. She knew they were terrified that they were next. And they were next. From the moment the first deaths occurred they had all been put on a list and they were just being checked off one by one. Like this workbook. Here are your assignments. But instead of contacting next of kin and getting your affairs in order is was “Infect the Johnsons. Then move on to their next door neighbors the Jones. Don’t forget their new baby.”

Entire families gone in a few months. Or worse, staggered. Like hers. Their son had gotten ill first. Before they knew it was a death sentence. He had died quickly. They had been in shock. Didn’t know how to move on. The doctors didn’t know at that point what was happening. Nobody did. It was a virus. It was unexplained. It was random. They were so sorry for their loss. Then her husband came home from work with a fever. By that time they knew. If you got sick, you died. It was contagious but they didn’t know how. They still don’t know how it’s passed. His entire office was gone within 4 months. There were drug therapies then. It was put in the water supply. They weren’t given a choice. All the drugs did was prolong the sickness.

Now they knew, you had 6 months from diagnosis to death. The drugs would keep you asymptomatic until the very last. So you had time to get your affairs in order. Here take this handy workbook we’ve compiled to make the end easier. Tidier. Less hassle for those left behind. Because, let’s face it, there aren’t many left behind to take care of things anymore.

“If you could choose, what would your last sentence be before you died?”

And now she had this one last thing to do. She thought it was cruel. After all, there was no choice here. They were dying. They were done. It could very well be their last sentence. She understood the psychology. If you could have a little bit of control over the uncontrollable you would be more at peace. So pick your final words. Choose your last profound thought. What do you want to leave to future generations?

She looked around her now very tidy apartment. Her bulletin board with last notes. Her spotless kitchen. Her meager belongings set out with notes attached. Her workbook, almost complete. She had no control. It was going to happen soon. There was no more putting it off. No matter how she procrastinated. No matter how much of an over achiever she was. It had all fallen apart. It had all ended. First her son. Then her husband. Now her.

“If you could choose, what would your last sentence be before you died?”

If she had known, if she could have chosen, if…

She picked up a pen and wrote:

“Hold on, honey, Dad and I are going to come with you.”

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