Dread gripped my stomach when I woke up that morning. After a glorious week in the small Mexican fishing village it was time to go home. Now, that might be enough for most people to get a sinking feeling, but it was more than that. Ominous clouds had rolled into the bay overnight. The wind was cold and the rain had started.
Covered in garbage bags for raincoats, we waited on the dock for the tiny fishing boat that would take us back to Puerto Vallarta to catch our flight. Angry waves crashed over the dock soaking our legs. When the boat finally arrived we fell over one another trying to find a seat and our balance in the choppy water. As the boat pulled away from the protected bay the waves grew higher, rougher and more terrifying.
This had been a return visit for my husband and I. We had met in this village six years earlier when I was living here. It had been a wonderful vacation, up until now. I had seen bad weather on this route back when I lived here, but I’d never seen anything like this. The “captains” never fear, always staying light-hearted and jovial. So when the seasoned captain and his friend stopped joking and passed out life preservers – something I have never I’d never seen them do before – I knew we were in trouble. Deep trouble. There were not enough life jackets for us all. And most adults were given kids sizes.
As waves crashed over the bow I was convinced I was facing my death. The shore was only visible when we would crest a wave. Otherwise it was gray sky and water in every direction. I don’t know why, but I didn’t fear death. Maybe I was still on the high of celebrating six years with the love of my life. I became acutely aware of all the blessings in my life and I felt ready to go.
Still, I had a haunting feeling. My poor mom and friends would have to try to figure out how to reach all of the people I know to inform them of my death. I’ve lived in three countries, I have friends all over the world, and I’m not very organized with my contacts. Where would they look to figure out who my friends are? How would they know who is relevant and who isn’t? Would anyone think to contact Omar in Sri Lanka? Would they find that ratty old phone book?
No matter how many times my mom has told me, I’ve still not gotten around to creating a will. So how will anyone know my last wishes? Will people argue as they try to figure it out? These thoughts bothered me more than the thought of actually losing my life. I felt terribly irresponsible.
Not only would my loved ones be grieving my death, but they’d be left with the nightmare of figuring out who to contact and what to say. Not an easy job at all. I also realized that I have things I want to express. If I was going to die I’d like to have a chance to say that I don’t’ mind, I’ve loved my life, I’ve learned so much, enjoyed so many things and felt the love of such good people. I’d do it all again if I had to and I really don’t have regrets.
We eventually reached the shore. The captain threw our luggage on the beach. Water poured out of it as if it had been salvaged from the bottom of the ocean. As if it was a scene from a movie – the winds died, the sun came out and our bodies slowly dried. Once I stopped shaking and Mark had a beer in his hand we talked about what we had just experienced. A few months earlier our friend Charles Campbell made a passing comment that “it would be great to have a service that sent an email out to everyone you know at the time of your death”. We knew in that moment on the beach that we would develop that service. But more than that, we knew from our experience that it’s important not just to be prepared for death but to celebrate life and we were determined to help people do that.
That is how Bcelebrated.com began.