Eight Days by Scott Thompson
Clive Kinsella dies one day, just as he is about to go somewhere and see more of the world he gave up long ago. Isn’t that the kind of thing that happens to people? You work your whole life and raise your children, get them off into the world, start to be able to save some money, start to maybe see the light at the end of the “responsibilities” tunnel, putting dream after dream on the back burner until “one day” when you’ll be able to finally do and see things you always wanted to do and see. And instead, you drop dead. Or, you get diagnosed with Stage 3C colon cancer on the day before your 47th birthday when all the doctors thought you had was a bad case of diverticulitis.
Clive dies and goes along with his long ago dead grandfather on a journey called “Reckoning.” Reckoning is where individuals face the events in their lives that defined them, the things that they held onto, the things that they never quite got over. In Clive’s case, he had eight days worth of Reckoning, and the reader gets to follow him on this pre-Heaven “life” experience. We learn why Clive made the choices he made, the struggles he faced, the pain he carried within, and what makes life worth living.
This spiritual story and Scott Thompson’s humble, tender and thoughtful writing style remind me of Mitch Albom’s work. You feel soothed when you read it, even though you are talking about a man’s regrets and pain after his death. You identify with Clive because we all know what it’s like to sacrifice our own goals and dreams for love – at least on some level. You appreciate Clive because even if you are not him, you know someone like him. You can understand his unwillingness to let certain things go, and you too hope that your own un-fabulous, unremarkable and simple life was indeed well lived.
Scott Thompson gives us a glimpse into the afterworld, allows us to share his window into the eternal and then later into Heaven, which is a place of hope and love – and in the end, aren’t those the things we all most cherish? The things we hold dearest to us? It’s why we cry and grieve and suffer when we lose those we love, and why we cling on to the promises of religion or spirituality that we will be with them again in some other realm.
No matter your personal views on those matters of “forever,” the truth is, it is up to all of us to Reckon within ourselves – either while here on Earth or perhaps somewhere else in between with our own grandfather guide: the choices we have made and the lives we have led. And then be okay with it as it was. Just because you didn’t go to outer space or write for a large newspaper in New York or claim a Nobel Prize doesn’t mean that the small delicacies of finding someone to love, raising a family, going fishing instead of traveling to Paris, helping an elderly parent die, holding your wife after she has just told you her deepest darkest secret, providing for your family, forgiving your repentant son, reading to your grandchild…aren’t actually even more meaningful.
The moral of this beautiful story is to embrace who and what you are, the things that led you there, and who and what you have right now. Reckon it now. That is how you live with no regrets. And that is how you die with no regrets.