The Lesson I Leanred After Death

March 5, 2008
By Sara Tabrizi, Santa Clara, CA

I think it was a Thursday, but it might have been a Friday. Anyway, it’s not the date that matters so much, as it really could have happened at any single moment of my boring, insignificant life. I died that morning, which should have engraved the details of the day into my mind, but I can honestly say that I was a little to preoccupied with my life to notice the signs of my impending doom. The day started unfolding normally, with the sun painting an ember stain on the crisp blue sky. I tiptoed out of the house, as I had been accustomed to doing so at five in the morning.

My early morning departures were the indirect result of my Lincoln High School classmate Lane Wilson. She had had everything that I had aspired to obtain: a boyfriend who actually cared, parents who drove sports cars and all of the material possessions she deemed necessary to obtain. And now she had purchased an iPod. And I had desired one too. Unfortunately, I had known that my parents could not afford to buy me the music player, especially with the costs that my new baby brother was raking up for them. As a last resort, I had resorted to searching for a job, but all I had been offered was the opportunity to distribute newspapers to my neighbors. Essentially, I became the local papergirl. It wasn’t glamorous, but every month I had received a paycheck, and every month I had inched a little closer to buying myself the iPod. Finally, I had saved enough to buy it, and I felt that my goal had been achieved. By then, Lane Wilson had bought a designer dress. Dior, I think. Again, I had a burning passion to obtain the exact same dress, but none of the funds to fulfill the desire. So I continued working, using my job to attain all the material possessions that Lane herself deemed necessary to have.

That faithful morning of my demise, I was progressing through the paper route steadily, riding an old beaten up bike whose wheels squeaked once per second, almost like a ticking clock. I heard a howl behind me, and quickly turned to observe the source of the noise. This of course meant that I was flying forward on my bike blindly at ten miles an hour, and I landed smack into a pole. Now, I should have stopped here. I should have noticed that the pole didn’t want me to proceed to my destination. It wanted to stop me, to save me, its metallic heart feeling pity for my situation. I only know this now. Then, I had just peeled myself off of the pole, cursed myself for being so careless, and went on my way.

As I rounded the second to last corner of my route, I felt my heart start to beat strangely. I attempted to ignore the sensation, peddling the little bicycle more vigorously than ever. Absentmindedly, I wondered what I had consumed that morning. They say before you die, your whole life flashes in front of your eyes, like a story book, the final chapters unfolding at the very end. For me, it was one memory.

It wasn’t vivid, like I was reliving it a second time, but it was clear enough that I didn’t have a problem recalling it. The thought occupied my brain in a suffocating manner, until I couldn’t fight it and it overcome me. I was lost in its folds of fabric, calmly drowning in the material. It was a blanket, soft and warm, but it was wrapped around me too tightly, cutting off my circulation. The memory was recent, perhaps a month old, and I hadn’t dwelled on it much in the past. It was my grandmother’s birthday, and the whole family had decided to celebrate the occasion at a fancy Italian restaurant in the heart of bustling San Francisco. While the rest of the family had been thrilled about the upcoming gathering, I had felt distressed. The birthday dinner had just happened to fall on the same day as Lane Wilson’s party, and I had heard she was giving guests goody bags containing bottles of expensive perfume. I had never owned anything by Ester Lauder in my life, but I had been more than prepared to change this misfortune, which had resulted in my determination to attend this “pressing” social engagement. Even I must have known the ridiculousness of my logic, because I had been reluctant to tell my mom that I would be missing my lovely grandmother’s birthday to attend the party of a girl that I absolutely despised. Instead I had lied. I had pretended to be sick and at Grandma’s insistence, had stayed home to “rest.” As soon as my family’s car had left the driveway, I had thrown off my bed covers and had proceeded to have a terrible time at one of the worst parities of my life. I had however returned home that night with a brand new bottle of expensive perfume. I had expected to feel triumphant. Instead, I had felt vaguely empty. My grandmother had always been king to me, baking me cookies and pretending that I was the most beautiful girl she had ever laid eyes on. But I had been out bought by a simple bottle of Ester Lauder fragrance. The perfume was sweat, but underneath the smell of roses I sensed the chemical it was really composed of. It was as fake as I was.

They say my death was a freak accident. A car swerved off of the road and hit me. I flew off my bike, and hit the ground hard, head first. My iPod cord wrapped around my neck, and the metal top of it cut into my head. I heard the news reports saying that it was an unlikely occurrence, of which Apple Corporation had no fault in.

It wasn’t Steve Job’s fault. And it wasn’t even the drowsy driver of the small Toyota that catapulted me to my death. Ultimately, it was my iPod that pulled the plug on my life. It’s ironic, that I could work so hard to attain something that aided in my demise. In essence, it wasn’t even really about the iPod either. I was so wrapped up in my dreams of becoming a Lane Wilson clone. I wanted her designer clothes, and her high tech gadgets. My narrow focus was on little ideas, and I had missed the bigger picture. Life, love, and relationships should not coming second to insignificant pieces of material. Empty dreams had caused me to forget the things that truly mattered, and just as I learned to appreciate what was real in life, I had died. I hadn’t died as a punishment for the way I lived my life. The way I lived my life was actually my punishment for my shallow values and my materialistic nature. I died regretting my mentality during life. I have heard that it is better to die amidst fond memories, rather than the regretful ones. Which is why I have taken the time to speak to you today. I’ll make simple for you, because maybe it takes dying to truly understand this: Throw away your iPod, and then go plant a nice big fat kiss on your grandma. I dare you to be different.

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