Do you ever take time to let your mind wander? It is incredible where the paths in the labyrinth of the mind lead you.

It was during one such impromptu mind-roaming that a question popped up. What if we could capture that last gasp thought before people move on to that Great Parallel Universe? What would those thoughts reveal about people we thought we knew so well?

Perhaps you are curious how this writer stumbled upon this idea? It was a dark stormless night, or it would have been, except the full moon messed up the ambiance of this tale. But, no matter the lighting, this genteel lady of the manor contemplated dark thoughts.

For example, the world would be a far better place without evil people. Too bad, so many of them continued to live and spread their evil like dandelion seeds in the wind. Then this particular train of thought began to slide down a path she refused to go. After all, when we wish something terrible to happen to someone, Karma has a way of boomeranging such nastiness right back at us.

Consequently, we did not take that fateful step. But then, the lady thought about death in general and the loss of friends and loved ones. And suddenly, her thoughts turned a bit warped. What did you expect?

So, let’s journey through the labyrinth of this writer’s mind. Imagine and explore possible last gasp thoughts of historical figures. Please note, final thoughts are not the same as recorded final words. Such contemplations are between the gasper and Zeus or Humpty Dumpty or whomever you deign to choose.

Shall we begin with a couple of well-known characters?  Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolph Hitler.

What if, as the Little Corporal neared the end, a fleeting thought knocked that final breath from his rotund little body? “Merde. If I had not been so distracted by my body lice that itched so fiercely, I would have focused and strategized better and won the Battle of Waterloo. There were more battles I could have fought and won.”

Although Adolph Hitler did not resemble the Teutonic master race he envisioned would rule the world, he still managed to wreak a great deal of misery and havoc far and wide. But what if Fate had the last laugh.

“Verdammt! I could have escaped to Argentina instead,” he gasped as the bullet ended his life.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt sat for a portrait in April of 1945. He had recently won his fourth term as President of the United States. The stress of the Yalta Conference was over. Now he could rest and recuperate.

As he sat there, possibly contemplating a fifth run for the Presidency, he collapsed and died of a cerebral hemorrhage. Was the hemorrhage a result of the strain of the campaign and the Yalta Conference that dealt the final death blow? Or was it that last gasp thought of running for a fifth term? After all, the politician’s creed is simple. Once you win an election, it is time to gear up for the next campaign.

Then there was a young prodigy among brutal leaders in history, Roman Emperor Caligula. He was 25 when he came to power. He nearly died from what many suspected was poisoning. But his health was never quite the same even after he recovered. He had epilepsy, and some historians believe he lived in fear of seizures.

During the three years of his reign, he murdered countless people, including his own family. Among other insane behavior, he planned on appointing his horse, Incitatus, a consul of Rome. But before he could do so, Cassius Chaerea, tribune of the Praetorian guard, and others murdered him.

Could his last gasp thoughts have been: “This is not fair. I’m only 28 and should have ruled longer.”

People often joke about no one saying on their deathbed: “I wish I had worked more hours.” But those jokes hold a macabre truth.

Countless Japanese employees work 60 hours or more per week. As a result, they commit suicide or suffer from heart failure and stroke.

This is Karoshi, death by overwork.

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