As my raspy grating breaths came ever slower and slower, I think back to all those years when I smoked two and three packs of cigarettes each and every day. I ask myself, “Why did I ever begin smoking in the first place?” I know that it certainly isn’t because I enjoyed the taste. The taste I could have taken or left, but the coughing every morning was something else again. That coughing was the reason I finally quit smoking many years ago, but even after quitting the coughing hung on; it just wouldn’t go away, and now–now I am paying for the many years that I smoked. How stupid that was. Just look at me now; how big it is to have once been a smoker. It would be much better to never have been a smoker than to be an ex-smoker. “You idiot you started smoking to look big in front of your friends. Do you still think they would think you are big fighting for each breath that you take?” I ask myself when I have enough oxygen to think that clearly.
Now I know how stupid I had been to ever start. As I raise up on one elbow and begin my hacking cough once again, I wonder why I didn’t listen when my wife; kids and friends, yes and even my doctor tried to convince me to quit smoking. I remember smiling and listening politely, but not really paying attention and definitely not heeding the words that they said. Now I wish that I could go back and hear them again. I know that if I could go back, I would quit smoking much sooner. If I could go back to when I was a teenager, I would never have started smoking in the first place. I slowly begin breathing again, proving I still have a bit of life left in me. I know that I haven’t much time left before the tobacco wins this battle. I intend to fight until the very end; I have never been one for giving up on something that I really want and don’t intend to start now that my life is almost over. I want to live and will fight to live as long as possible; although, I know the tobacco will win the battle in the end, and that the battle will end soon.
With tears in my eyes, I call for my children and grandchildren to get them to promise me that they will never use tobacco in any form. My final words are, “Promise me!” Then, “I’ll see you on the other side.” before finally breathing my last and going on to the next life.