This year marks the one year anniversary of the death of one of my closest friends. For readers of my blog, that is a fact that should be very familiar. I’ve written extensively on her passing. I’ve had so many thoughts and feelings as this moment neared. It’s to be expected. I’ve never truly faced grief in my life like this.
Inevitably, thoughts turn to my own mortality and that of others. I confess I’ve thought of what I’d say if I had to deliver a eulogy for some in my life. How would I sum up their lives? That’s dark but having to think about this in the last year triggers such thoughts.
And then there’s the person I can’t eulogize: myself. Unless I shut this blog down, it’ll either die with me or it’ll die the inevitable death of all internet projects on a forgotten entry. There will never be a true entry where I look back at my life and give final thoughts on it.
This is a question many ponder. Marvel has addressed it with “The End” series of comics which tell hypothetical final stories of characters. Alan Moore told a potential Superman finale. There’s also the “Last Lecture” series which gained attention when Randy Pausch gave one after discovering that he was indeed dying and thus truly was giving a last speech. I’m fascinated by the idea.
So let us undertake an exercise. Simply a thought exercise. Something has happened, we’ll say I was suddenly ill this week and it killed me since that’s been a lifelong fear, and this entry exists.
So, this entry exists.
What do you say at the ultimate climax? The undiscovered country as Shakespeare put it? The final summation. Where am I now? I don’t know. I’ve always maintained an openness about the universe. I doubt I’m nowhere though. Maybe I’ve finally gotten my wish and I’m zooming through time and space itself. That’d be cool.
As much fun as it is to consider it, that’s not why I’m writing. No, I’m writing to provide final thoughts on a subject I’m not sure I know quite what to say on.
Perhaps that’s fitting. I haven’t ever felt certain how I feel about my own life. At best I had a blast riding through it. At worst I ensured it and barely made it out. Most often I did both at once.
I’m sad I’m here all the same though. It’s inevitable that you wish you weren’t at the final page of your story. You regret losing the chance to do more, to be more. You regret the episodes of your life you’ll never see. Yeah, mostly you regret.
Who was I? The facts of my life are clear. Austin Shinn, born 2/27/1984. Died in early October 2015. I started my life in Texas, moved to Arkansas at 10, graduated high school in 03, college in 07. Worked at the Arkansas Democrat Gazette from 08-death. Married Amanda Blackmon in 2013. Was expecting a child I never met. I love them anyway.
I was autistic. I once hid from that side of me but before death I’d embraced it firmly. Was I ever at peace with it? No. Not at all. But in my lack of peace I found a mission. I lived my life in the fight to help others in my place. I hope my blog lives on after me.
I loved to write. I wasn’t very good at it, but I loved to do it. I loved getting lost in a story and living it. I repeated myself often but oh well. I never did get published. That’s one big thing I leave behind.
Oh how I loved going to the movies. I felt safe at the theater. The movies were a cocoon that kept me from darkness. Had this happened before I met Amanda, my ashes would be mixed with cement used to build a movie theater actually. The last movies I saw were The Peanuts Movie and The Godfather. I’ll take them.
I loved reading too. I lived at LR Main. I’ll miss that building more than any structure on Earth, though I don’t count out a haunting. Books were my world. LR Main was my portal.
In this moment I’m supposed to have final thoughts on life. Here is what I’ll say: it was hard. It was unwinnable. But that meant it was worth it. I’m glad I got to fight. I’m glad I got to try. I got my blows in. And I had a ton of fun. So yeah. I’m glad I lived.
To my friends, ranging from the frequently spoken to to the fallen away, know this, I live forever through your memories. I have such warm thoughts of you. I’m going to mourn not grabbing one last cup of coffee.
Then there are my online friends. I only ever met one of you in person. I’ll miss you all. You guys were a permanent fixture in my life. Retweet me every so often, ok?
To my family: I wish I’d gotten to see you more. I know my schedule impacted things but I never stopped loving you guys. You all were there for me always. Thank you.
Oh Amanda, I ache as I think of you in this moment. My life would’ve continued with inertia had I never known you. As it stands, it became amazing. It became something worth living. You transformed me. Oh how I’ll miss you. I love you like nothing else. Please take care of cub.
And so it goes I say goodbye. Could I say more? I could never shut up. But that’s the point of life. We don’t get to decide when it’s time to shut up. It happens. We just hope we’ve said enough. I hope I have. And with that, only one phrase can close this out.
Thanks for reading.