"When life is over it is like a flicker of bright film, an instant on the screen, all of its prejudices and passions condensed and illumined for an instant on space, and before you could cry out, 'There was a happy day, there a bad one, there an evil face, there a good one,' the film burned to a cinder, the screen went dark.
From this outer edge of life, looking back, there was only one remorse, and that was only that he wished to go on living. Did all dying people feel this way, as if they had never lived? Did life seem that short, indeed, over and done before you took a breath? Did it seem this abrupt and impossible to everyone, or only to himself, here, now, with a few hours left to him for thought and deliberation?"
. . .
"And I? thought Hollis. What can I do? Is there anything I can do now to make up for a terrible and empty life? If only I could do one good thing to make up for the meanness I collected all these years and didn't even know was in me! But there's no one here but myself, and how can you do good all alone? You can't. Tomorrow night I'll hit Earth's atmosphere.
I'll burn, he thought, and be scattered in ashes all over the continental lands. I'll be put to use. Just a little bit, but ashes are ashes and they'll add to the land.
He fell swiftly, like a bullet, like a pebble, like an iron weight, objective all of the time now, not sad or happy or anything, but only wishing he could do a good thing now that everything was gone, a good thing for just himself to know about.
WhenI hit the atmosphere, I'll burn like a meteor. 'I wonder,' he said, 'if anyone'll see me.'
. . .
The small boy on the country road looked up and screamed. 'Look, Mom, look! A falling star!'
The blazing white star fell down the sky of dusk in Illinois.
'Make a wish,' said his mother. 'Make a wish.'"
~ Ray Bradbury, Kaleidoscope, The Illustrated Man