Two Weeks to Live…
December 28, 2011 5:16 PM   Subscribe

What would you do if you had two weeks to live with very little money and no family? You do have a free schedule but are somewhat limited physically (no surfing or ballroom dancing).

An elderly friend is having very risky surgery in two weeks and feels she'd like to live more in the meantime.

You've been in love, married for many years but that's over and you're not seeking another relationship. You have close friends but they're all busy with their lives. You were very involved in service to others for many years and now it takes more energy than you can spare. I'm suggesting a spiritual retreat but maybe I'm missing something?
posted by R2WeTwo to Grab Bag (21 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Get rid of all possessions except basic necessities. Give them to people who need them. Take a trip, take a healthier companion along to help out. Go somewhere you've always wanted to go.
posted by mareli at 5:21 PM on December 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

What motivates her? What gives her joy?

I don't think the answer can come from us, its so personal and specific
posted by zia at 5:24 PM on December 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Roadtrip + Music + Good Friend

Depends on "elderly" I guess, but I think that would be the best thing.
posted by milarepa at 5:26 PM on December 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

With close but busy friends, and years of service to others, I would want a fantastic friend to organize a day for me with all those friends and people who appreciated my help. One day for laughing and reminiscing, for hearing that I meant something to them, and for telling them that I care for them, and for saying a possible goodbye. Even busy friends have time for that type of day, possible last days.

You could be that friend to her.
posted by Houstonian at 5:28 PM on December 28, 2011 [18 favorites]

What would you do if you had two weeks to live with very little money and no family?

Do more drugs, have more sex, go to strip clubs, go to a movie, visit a beautiful building, heckle politicans and police, visit a nursery, ogle women, watch planes take off, visit the ocean, visit the zoo, walk done the street singing, listen to a street musician, get lost in a crowd and crash a local news show.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:31 PM on December 28, 2011 [6 favorites]

I would eat lots of cheeseburgers, drink beaucoup beer, try drugs I hadn't had the balls to try prior (crack, heroin), get my worldly possessions down to a bare minimum, and tell my children how much I love them.

I would also set up emails to friends and family that would go out upon my death telling them whatever comes to mind. Maybe video tape me telling family history, stories, my life story and the like.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:39 PM on December 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, would eat some fresh fruit and a cheeseburger, tag a building or two, carve my name in a tree, plant a tree, go for a walk in the woods, set off some fireworks, ride in a car with the top down, fly a kit, go to a church and call out the preacher, visit a hospice, hold hands with someone, write little notes and leave them in library books, visit a prison, go to humane society and play with a dog and visit and art museum.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:39 PM on December 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'd get in a car and drive, take my camera and the puppy, stop at random interesting places and take pictures.

Go to the beach, even if it involves a long drive or weekend flight.

Have a small party or evening at a bar with my closest friends just to spend an evening together.

Do something foolish, just because I can (wild night flirting with strangers at a bar or something similar).

Explore a hobby I haven't had a chance to focus on before now.

Take myself to the movies, to the opera, etc type things.

Make arrangements for my puppy and possessions to be taken care of/etc type responsible measures...

I'd recommend similar things for an elderly friend... or if they have a 'bucket list' item that is within their current price range I 'd see what I can do to help them with it.
posted by myShanon at 5:42 PM on December 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Write. And write. And write.
posted by willbaude at 5:45 PM on December 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

Write letters of thanks to people that made a difference in my life. I think the spiritual retreat is a good idea. I would also wrap up all the loose ends. Clean my house completely so someone else doesn't have to do it, give away everything that I don't need, make sure my will is up to date along with all my medical paperwork, such as living will, etc. Make sure I am completely set up for the recovery period after the surgery. Revisit places that figured prominently in my life. And I would also sit on the beach for a couple of days, for me that's the place that I feel the most serene.
posted by raisingsand at 5:55 PM on December 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

Oh, and I think I would write letters of apology to all the people that I think I wronged in my life.
posted by raisingsand at 5:56 PM on December 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

I would sit and look at the sunset. I would tell someone my story. I'd have a wonderful piece of food and enjoy every bite while I looked around at people.

I'd tell people I loved them.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 5:56 PM on December 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'd give everything I had away. Hopefully that would make some random and familiar people smile. Then I'd go on a religious retreat. I don't think you're missing anything at all!
posted by Yellow at 6:03 PM on December 28, 2011

I would organize old photos and favorite memorabilia I've collected, ostensibly cleaning them up. Eat at favorite restaurants. Re-read favorite selections from treasured novels, stories, poems, etc. Maybe walk to the park or museum nearby if the weather's good. Nothing that really says it's over, because I'd want to be optimistic, yet plenty that savors the memories of people and things I've loved.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 7:37 PM on December 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

If I had 2 weeks, the last thing I'd want to do is get my hands all grimy/dusty from handling piles of old photos and papers. Is it cold where your friend is? I'd love to have a friend take me to visit a greenhouse conservatory. Then I'd love to spend a week at a lakeside cottage with a wood stove and starry skies.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:52 PM on December 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd go to my spot--for me, it's The Beach, doesn't matter which beach--and just soak it all in for as long as possible so I could really go out on a peaceful note if I didn't make it through. Like in the end, I did something I loved and I could go out with it mostly being my last memory.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:12 PM on December 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

Get rid of all possessions except basic necessities.

I would not suggest this. That is tantamount to those people who quit their jobs and left their families for the coming Rapture this past year.

no money, no family? That's rough. I would say that there's something that must bring happiness to them, even if it was an activity they did many decades ago. find that happiness again and execute it. There's no good answer to get from us, but as it was said above, they will need to think about what would make them happy, even if that means a road-trip to Tulsa :)
posted by zombieApoc at 6:50 AM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd try to go to my close friends if they couldn't come to me. Assuming that the cost/time of travel isn't prohibitive, I'd go visit them for whatever time they could offer me, even if it was just coffee. Even if I spend more time getting there and back than seeing them, seeing my friends would be what I'd try to do. (Also, what Houstonian said.)

Closer to home, someone I know has made a project of meeting a stranger a day, and writing a bit about it. That could be an interesting thing to combine with writing letters to people -- a place to start a letter that isn't "so, I might die, here's what you mean to me" which I would think could get extremely draining.

I love pretty much all of Brandon's suggestions. After making sure all the major pieces (will, recovery, etc) are in place, a little bit of mischief and reaching outside myself in possible last days sounds lovely to me.
posted by EvaDestruction at 7:07 AM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If your friend comes up with her plan and you need help executing in New York, memail me. I'd happily give a day to be a friend to her at this tough time.
posted by thinkpiece at 7:28 AM on December 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Definitely do not get rid of everything. Its a risky surgery, its not a guaranteed expiration date.

There's nothing wrong with taking steps and making sure that someone close to you knows what you want done with all your things... make a list of personal items you want to give to specific loved ones and such, but the satisfaction of giving everything away isn't worth the risk of finding yourself with nothing when the surgery goes well.

I'd focus more on a "just in case" scenario instead of assuming thats all the time you have left.

Also EvaDestruction, I've thought of doing something similar to the "stranger a day" project but haven't figured out how to go about it just yet...
posted by myShanon at 10:41 AM on December 29, 2011

Ask her to spend some of that time with a tape recorder and/or video camera, telling some stories about her life.

Some really special meals, some great reading & music, a trip to my favorite museums to see some great art. Phone calls and/or visits with close friends and family, near and far.

close friends but they're all busy with their lives Tell them it's important, ask them to get a little un-busy.
posted by theora55 at 5:57 PM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

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