Francis Rubio

Read this when I die

A letter to people who love me but never had the chance to say goodbye


Long before my demise, I promised to return as a blue butterfly. I had worked so hard to come back as soon as I realized I was gone. I scurried asking fellow ghosts, both those stuck in this world and those who had already traveled but came back for another chance to say goodbye. It is a shame I couldn’t find a blue butterfly. I had to make do. After all, you favored yellows more than other colors; it made sense to me, and, as I had hoped, it did to you, too.

But I had to make sure you knew it was me, so here I am appearing to you in a ghastly apparition in one of your dreams. I intend not for you to be convinced of my reality, nor do I hope you resort to spiritualistic means in order to find me. That’s a sin if you will recall, and by appearing here now outside of your agency, I figure you’d be spared from judgment, this being all me, just in case a divine person actually exists.

I did not come back to let on you a burden of heavy toll. Only to speak to you one last time is my last wish. As that flame engulfed my home, I had only thought of you. Please don’t tell mother, she’d be more grief-stricken to find out it was not her I was thinking about; after all, my brothers would know how to care for her. I had wanted to give you one last call, but my phone had long exploded from the intense heat, hence my missing left hand. I wanted to commend you for noticing the stainless steel ring in my right hand, though. What an incredible insight on your part!

What I wanted to bestow upon you now as I tread the path to the afterlife, is freedom. Eternity is fleeting, and forever is always changing. Both still are too long a time to wait for something never returning. Just as a seed brings forth sprouts that grow into trees as a forest burns, so will I plant before you a garden upon which you are to build the foundation of your free winds. I am letting out for you an immense river, of which ebbs and flows are for you to direct as you so please.

Try as you might, there will not be another me. There is, however, always someone for you. And when that kindred spirit descends upon you, do not look for me any place else; I will not be there nor anywhere you look for. The spirit is a gift, just as I was to you and you were to me. Alas, but our life is on borrowed time. The universe grants and the universe takes back. And we take with gratitude and return with no regrets as the time for them come and go. It is therefore our duty to just be. So when the seed brings forth a sprout that grows into a spirit granted for you, take it. When the river starts flowing out, let it water the wilderness.

In our frailty, we delight in the prospect of eternal being and companionship. Reality, however, always disagrees and gives us the exact opposite of what we would rather live with. So take this as an assurance—I am never returning, and if I do, judge me a liar. Let go of your pain when it has soothed you enough. Let the love die when it has afflicted you enough. Forget the pleasure lest you keep yearning for it and be eternally grieving for what could have been. The ship has sailed, and the sun has set, and so am I moving on to what I am to do. And when the dust has settled, let new pains take you by your neck, new love take root, and new pleasures shiver your spine.

The pain is a gift, and grief is a blessing, for only then will we grasp that we have loved, and in a pocket of time we have taken our walls down, reaching out to something beautiful yet fleeting and ultimately harrowing. I have not planned my demise, but I have prepared for it. In life, I had always feared the void of being forgotten for the rest of time. But in death, I’d rather you forget, if only to soothe the pain and dissipate the hurt. Bury me underground, my body and the life I’ve lived. Return when you hear the call, or never at all.

I have led a life with no regrets, at least none that would ever matter. How exquisite would it be to be the same for you!

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