An Entire Life Told In 4 Minutes, 54 Seconds

I was at a funeral for an older gentleman and we were shown a video of his life from birth to death. We watched as he grew up from Kindergarten to high school graduation to becoming a barber and an Air Force pilot and a husband and a father and then his battle with multiple sclerosis, which took his life with a stroke.

It was amazing to see him as a handsome, agile young man with a head of dark flowing hair and the posture of a superhero. Most of us didn’t even know he was a barber. It was amazing to see the wedding photos, this couple growing old together, smiling all the way, his wife by his side to the very end.

The video was four minutes and fifty-four seconds long. An entire life, told through pictures, in less than five minutes.

As selfish as it seems, I wondered about my own video one day. I wondered how it would be be sitting in a building watching my entire life in a slideshow.

I thought about what they would say about me, if some would say “He wasn’t all he was hyped up to be” or “We really lost an amazing person today” or “We disagreed often, and I loved him for it.” I wondered if they would show that picture from third grade when I was at Disney World wearing a giant Mickey Mouse hat with my brother and pretending to eat him. Or that one the day after I got out of the hospital after swallowing a bottle of pills and losing thirteen pounds in three days over a girl. Or the one of me battling to the very last breath over some sickness, all youth behind me, my story at a close.

The pastor said every life cannot control the start or end of their book. But we write the in-between. It’s between us and God and all the merging stories we find of love, heartache, heaven, laughter, doubts, and goodbyes. And the many, many pictures.

It’s quick, you know. We only have so many highlights in that reel. I don’t want my head to be somewhere else when I’m here. I want to be here, now. We think we have forever, but really, it’s just a few minutes. We have a few snapshots, and then it’s gone.

Here’s to celebrating you, and for the memories.

— J.S.

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