June 12, 2013

Go Gentle Into That Good Night

I was thinking about death, which I often do, because I am often convinced I have some terminal illness that all the doctors I have seen in my life have missed. Every headache could be a brain tumor, every sinus pressure a stroke and every weird ache some rapidly growing cancer. I don’t know why I am like this.  I guess it just seems that life is so tenuous and we are all just one random accident away from meeting our maker.

Both my mother and father died of cancer and had funerals at a church. The casket was open at the front of the church and people milled about and went up to the coffin to “say goodbye” and then chatted with the family and told us how wonderful our mother was. In fact, one person at my Dad’s funeral was like, “You father was a good man, but oh lord, how I miss you mother.” Which was pretty funny and apt. I think Dad even felt that way – “Man I am a good person, but oh how I miss Celeste.”

I also recently attended the funeral of my brother in law. Pat was a good guy. He was quiet and lurked about not wanting to take up too much space, but he was funny when you got him going. When Mike told him I was pregnant with Max, Pat said, “Are you sure it’s yours? I mean, she travels a lot.” Which I thought was hysterical. The thought of me running around in sensible business clothes having affairs in small cities is funny.

At Pat’s funeral, people of course shared good times and how much they loved Pat. Almost everyone said the same thing – I had not seen him lately. In fact, I had not seen Pat in over 2 years. He moved across the lake, things got busy, you know the scene. It made me sad to think he left his world not knowing how much I and others cared about him and how much we valued him exactly as he was, as we all are – an imperfect child of this Great Universe.

I started thinking that if I ever do find out I have some terminal disease, if I have notice that I am going to die, I am going to plan and attend my own funeral. I mean, why miss the party? How awesome would it be to invite all your friends to your funeral? They would treat it like the real thing – wear black, take bereavement leave, bring a casserole and then they would stand around and talk about how wonderful I was. And I would wear a white robe with wings and flit about the room from conversation to conversation saying things like, “Bless you my child” and “I am watching over you.”

I would get to enjoy all the peace lilies and bouquets of Stargazer Liles. I could personally write my own thank you cards for donations in my name to the charity of my choice. I could see if Mike keeps good on his promise to have a bagpipe player at my funeral.

And after the funeral, there would be light snacks and a buffet at my house for family and close friends. There I could dole out my belongings and read my will. Who could contest it then? I mean, if you don’t understand it, you can just ask me! Wonder if I had any regrets? Just ask, I’ll share the scroll-long list of them! I might even be able to check off a few things on the list before I pass over to the other side.

And then, when I did finally die, I would go off knowing that all those people cared enough to come to the funeral and send me off. And they would know, that I knew, that they cared all along.  Just as I suspected they did.