In a profile of Roald Dahl, author of The BFG (one of my favorite stories of youth), there's this note on his last words before death:
The endings of Dahl’s stories are almost always surprising, even when we know the twist is coming. This talent, it turns out, applied equally to the author’s own life. In a hospital, surrounded by family, Dahl reassured everyone, sweetly, that he wasn’t afraid of death. “It’s just that I will miss you all so much,” he said—the perfect final words. Then, as everyone sat quietly around him, a nurse pricked him with a needle, and he said his actual last words: “Ow, fuck!”
Wonderful. (Thanks to Chris Yeh for the pointer.)
Speaking of last words, look at the power editors wield. The New Yorker's truly moving piece on the (apparently unjust) execution of Cameron Willingham closes with Willingham's last words:
The only statement I want to make is that I am an innocent man convicted of a crime I did not commit. I have been persecuted for twelve years for something I did not do. From God’s dust I came and to dust I will return, so the Earth shall become my throne.
Except those weren't all of his last words. His full statement made a couple references to his ex-wife:
Yeah. The only statement I want to make is that I am an innocent man-convicted of a crime I did not commit. I have been persecuted for 12 years for something I did not do. From God's dust I came and to dust I will return-so the earth shall become my throne. I gotta go, road dog. I love you Gabby. I hope you rot in hell, bitch; I hope you fucking rot in hell, bitch. You bitch; I hope you fucking rot, cunt. That is it.