The sacredness applied to birth and death is universal.

Some want many in the room to support them in birthing or dying, some want few and others wish for none. We choose the attendees of our laboring, and sometimes, we choose also the attendees of our retirement.

We treat them as sacred book holders, studying, shelving, amassing, and discarding experiences like selfies. We move through life, wearing our most excellent dust jackets. We hope that another will find resonance in our design, take us home and keep us forever. Again and again, we are returned, never living up to the promises tattooed on our backs.

It isn’t until we’ve been stamped for permanent rejection that we realize our purpose has been muddled. It’s then that we remove the jacket and dust ourselves off. There is then nothing that distinguishes us from anything else, and even our name remains a mystery, lest someone do more than glance at the curvature of our spine. We discover our story means nothing to anyone, unless they purposely choose us, then hold us past our beginning to our end.

If we had to do it over again, we wouldn’t have limited our lives as if the bookholders were impenetrable concrete slaps. Nor would we have spent time decorating our shelves with fleeting tangibles. We wouldn’t have had the need to judge anyone’s story, nor would we have sat still for the tattoo someone else designed to represent our own.

But we don’t have it over to do again. All we have are covers and partial stories remaining to be written, told, held, and taken home forever. We already know who we want with us when we reach the last page, so let’s use the space between to live in all the places we feared before to go.

Beginning with our hearts, let every remaining page, every witness, every handheld moment, and every kiss be as sacred as those chosen first and last.

When our pages begin falling off the shelf, we’re ready to release the stories told by others that held us bound within their ends.