A medical condition forced me recently to consider the end of my life.

I don’t usually have sweet rolls or donuts. But after a clinic appointment one day I needed coffee and was near a Dunkin’ Donuts counter. I bought coffee and a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee cake muffin.

The Dunkin’ Donuts coffee cake muffin emerges from its restraining paper cup overflowing that cup with a thick hard covering rich in cinnamon and sugar.

I begin eating the muffin with that top cover. It breaks off in large chunks with few crumbs falling as I break off each chunk. That hard sugary top goes pretty quickly.

Next comes the muffin in the restraining paper cup. Here the muffin is soft and crumbly, no solid chunks and a lot of crumbs. I work through this part of the muffin and arrive at the bottom of the paper cup. Only crumbs, small chunks stuck firmly to the sides and bottom of the paper remain.

I finish the muffin with those crumbs at the bottom and the small chunks that I scraped off the paper cup. I wrap up the paper cup and realize that it was a filling muffin; that I am satisfied and want no more.

The outline of the Dunkin’ Donuts coffee cake muffin has become my emoji for a death that expresses contentment and thanks for the life that came before it.

I see the active life beginning in the early 20s. Then we “bite” off life in solid chunks. Like the top of the cake muffin, there are few “crumbs” of indecision. Life is “rich” and “overflowing” in excitement and done fast.

Soon we come to our 30s and adulthood. Now, as with the restraining paper cup of the muffin, we are also restricted by responsibilities to our work, our marriage, our children, our relationships. Life doesn’t come to us in solid chunks but with decisions and plans easily falling apart.

We move through middle age to our final senior years. Senior life can be difficult. Some aspects of it have to be worked at as with those chunks stuck to the bottom and the sides of the muffin paper cup. But we handle those difficulties and live through the final “crumbs” at the “bottom” and ending of our lives.

At this point, it is my hope that I will be able to see my life as complete; that, like finishing the Dunkin’ Donuts muffin, I will be able, with satisfaction, to “wrap up” my life needing no more. Yes, it is my hope that I will be grateful that I had that quantum chance to have lived.

Jim Dickert is a resident of Oak Park.

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