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In the end....
My letter to the future for the In Your Dreams: Letters Aloud salon
Hello friends. Tonight I spoke at an event In Your Dreams: Letters Aloud series. It’s a Salon by Pirate & Queen with The Spinoff - and I spoke with some amazing people: Clementine Ford, Paddy Gower, Anthonie Tonnon, and Karlya Smith. The theme was Letter to the Future. I really, really struggled with the theme.
In the end - I thought about two things -
Every time I think of the future I think of the end of the world.
My seven-year-old is obsessed with creating “Alternate Histories”, things like - what would have happened if Octavian hadn’t won the Battle of Actium over Cleopatra and Mark Antony, or what if James Cook had never landed in Hawaiʻi, or what if Rēkohu had been sold to the Germans to be a German colony…
I kind of merged the two to think about how I feel about the future and how we try to imagine better for our children, for ourselves… An alternate future, I guess.
Anyway, here it is. Arohanui Emily x
In the end, the end of the world wasn’t anything like they’d expected it to be.
There had been so many jokes online in the Metaverse, the place we’d all said we wouldn’t ever entertain but somehow without wanting to it had just come and we were in it. Even the hardcore resisters had no choice because our bosses forced it upon us.
But in the end that didn’t matter either.
We’d all joked that we’d all be working, and we wouldn’t notice. Joked that the memes would be good at least. Joked that the end times would kill the vibe, would happen online with Instagram taken over with grainy squares trying to show the beauty of a giant mushroom cloud. We said we were sure some would still be imploring us to use the code Apocalypse for 10% off.
But as it happened the end of the world came quickly. And as was the technology of our great future, we’d all been given a heads up.
We all had a choice and choose we did.
There weren’t riots in the streets like they’d said there would be. You could hear music though. It was as if everyone wanted just one more chance to hear a favourite song, to dance one more time.
We wanted to hold our arms up to the heavens and close our eyes when it happened. Some of us anyway.
Our loved ones, our chosen family came together without much talk.
The kids weren’t kids anymore, had kids of their own – but they were still our kids.
We gathered in the homes they’d grown up in, or the homes we’d adopted, or the homes that we had and through tears cuddled our grandbabies and our friends’ babies close and were mostly just grateful.
We weren’t as afraid as we thought we’d be.
We just kept saying ‘I love you’, ‘I love you’, ‘I love you’ and the little ones scoffed ice cream and giggled, and we were grateful for that too – that they knew what ‘I love you’ meant but they didn’t know about the end of the world. They just knew that they were allowed to stay up late tonight. And that was enough.
And we called our loved ones further away and put the phone on speaker so we would all be together just one more time and we said: ‘I love you I love you I love you’.
We slow danced for a bit and the kids – adults now – they loved it. Loved watching us. They talked about how we used to dance on each other’s feet. They lifted their kids into the air, and they screamed in delight, and we watched, and it was as if we were overflowing. As if for the first time we could see the stars.
And we tiptoed away and whispered to our long-gone loved ones, to the sky – hey, we’re coming soon. Be ready for us please. Be gentle with us please.
We held hands and still we weren’t afraid. We were grateful. Grateful that our love had made us a family and now we’d leave this place as a family.
We laughed and each played a favourite song and one by one the grandkids fell asleep. And we kissed their flushed cheeks and we marvelled at their perfection, and we said things like ‘you have been the very best thing’. And our friends were with us, and we said thank you for being all that I’ve ever hoped for and needed and more and I love you, I love you, I love you.
And we didn’t think of how there was no time left. We just thought about all the time we’d had and how lucky we were to have it.
Everyone was sure it would be so terrible at the end.
We’d fucked up they said.
They said we’d deserve it all.
But the end came swift. And in the end the humans had shown their softest sides, they’d taken the gentlest parts of themselves and replicated them, and they’d sung, and they’d danced, and they’d been so kind and they’d invited the lonely in, stood with neighbours side-by-side, made soup together laughing in the kitchen knowing that it didn’t matter that they wouldn’t eat it. That it would be over before then.
They’d opened their doors, so nobody faced it alone. They’d been so good in the end.
They had been so kind and good and gentle in the end.
If you could see them, how hard they tried to be better at the end. If you’d seen how much they cared for each other at the end. You’d have been proud, you would have. You’d have felt it.
We were the best of us we were.
We were thoughtful in the end. There was mercy. There was a grace. The parts of us that held the most pain somehow filled with peace instead.
We got to be all the things we’d hoped our children would be.
We lived up to it – our humanness.
And when it was all over, it was just a new beginning.