I’m not good with death. When my grandfather died, they fired three shots into the air and I still hear them sometimes. I didn’t look in my Great Aunt’s casket; I stood at the back of the room and held my breath and hugged my mom when she needed it. It’s a natural thing to die and It’ll happen to everyone, and I know that someday it’ll be me in that casket and people will have to decide if they’re going to look in or not, touch me or not, cry for me or not. I’m twenty years old and I have no reason to fear death — statistically it’s not something I have to worry about for a while, but the immediacy of it haunts me sometimes. You can be alive and then dead and you’ll never notice the difference. You’ll never do those things you dreamt of as a kid; you’ll never be a pirate or the first person on Mars or own the world’s only grilled cheese restaurant.
By the time you’re done reading this, 315 people will have died. They won’t ever speak or write or think another word in any language ever again. Next year, they’ll still be dead. After you die, they’ll still be dead. When the universe reaches thermodynamic equilibrium and all life is extinguished, they’ll be as dead as they are at the end of this letter. I’ll never know most of them. I’ll never hear or read or see anything made by them in their entire lives. I’ll never be affected by them in the way that the people who love them or hate them are. Nothing to remember them by. You — you are alive right now, and I hope I have a chance to meet you and shake your hand and hear your voice just one time before you die, because someday you’re going to be dead and I want to hurt for you. I want to think back to that time and feel like we connected and have something to hold onto while I accept that we’ll never meet again.
That’s what art was made for. We want to connect with people as much as we can in the short time that we have. We want to send out a beacon to the world and hope that someone, anyone, receives it and stores it in their memory so that when we’re gone that little piece of us will remain. Art allows us to affect people across space and time. You might read this years after I write it, maybe even years after I die. I hope that you feel like you’ve gotten something from it. I hope that when I die you can remember reading this and feel like we connected for just a couple minutes of your day. I want to feel that too. I want to feel that with everybody who will ever die. I want to meet everybody in the world. Please give me something to remember you by. Make a story or a painting or a podcast or a tweet. Send something out to the world and to me so that when you die I can know that we had something. It might be one-way and it might be fleeting but I want to know you. You don’t have to change the world before you’re gone. Just try to say hello to it.