If you knew you were going to die in a month, what would you do?
Then I wonder, if I knew it would turn out the same, would I want to do it all over again?
These are two questions at opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. The first has a hard deadline, while the second provides a sense of infinite do-over-ability. And yet, regardless of where we are in our lives, both are worthy of our consideration.
The premise of this story and the possibilities it presented were intriguing. Even though the reader knows where the story will end, how we get there and the way the circumstances of the main characters change in the process is where all the magic lives.
The relationship developed between Jack and Daisy over the course of this novel was equal parts romantic and complicated. There’s an authenticity to the way Ms. Oakley shares these details that allows us to embrace the realistic complications of any relationship alongside that feeling of butterflies in the stomach while first falling in love. But the depth of these connections with other human beings in this story travel well beyond the romantic realm. It dips into friends, parents, colleagues, and strangers—some who might be viewed as adversaries or threats, while others are cogs in the wheel of a master plan. And sometimes both.
The overarching themes in a novel that dive into these medical diagnoses forcing us to confront death are obvious: live fully and in the moment. And yes, that’s a noteworthy and necessary message conveyed through each of these character’s lives. But there’s something more hidden beneath the surface of the words shared.
Pondering the fragility of our human lives reinforces the urgency with which we sometimes feel we should live. Some people might pack this available time with as many experiences as possible. The more the better. But what I discovered and realized through this book—and perhaps this is obvious, but common sense isn’t always common practice—is that it’s not how much we do, but rather what we choose that makes the biggest difference. It’s focusing on our choices and the people we surround ourselves with that create the most impactful additions to our lives, memories, and legacy.
And that begins by sharing what’s in our hearts with a vulnerability and authenticity that is sometimes beyond scary, uncertain, and challenging. But when we do, the view from the other side of fear is so often better. Speak your mind. Open your heart. Share your story.
“Before I Go” is a wonderful reminder to do all these things. Because while contemplating death might be scary, realizing that you’re not doing everything in your power to live according to the truest version of yourself is downright terrifying.
Dave’s Rating: ☕️☕️☕️
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