This is what Annie Dillard had asked Alexander Chee’s class (writer of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel). She wanted this to be the standard for their work.
What a great question to test the quality of your work. The ultimate goal to strive for.
When I think of a dying person I think of my mother. I sat by her side the whole night, alone, holding her hand. We didn’t say much because she was drugged, but if she was awake what would I have read her. What would she like to hear?
She would have like to hear stories from her past. Nostalgic stories. Of good days. Maybe of a bad one too. Because they always ended in something good. I have written some of those stories but they wouldn’t have cut it. They lacked emotion and they lacked hope. Writing for a specific reader help bring more life to your writing.
I would have read her Helen Garner’s, The Spare Room, Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie and John Green’s The Fault in our stars.
I would have read her poetry too. Poems she liked and used to recite to me. Then there were songs. Songs I heard her sing when I was a little girl. There is something in songs and poetry. They touch your heart.
She would have enjoyed Dylan Thomas’s poem “Don’t go gentle into that good night.” She was a fighter after all. She fought till her last breath.