A friend of mine was given an assignment in some college course she is taking. She may have told me which course but it escapes me at the moment and it's not really important. The assignment is the relevant part here.
I knew the topic was weighing heavily on her from the way she brought it up. There was neither excitement nor disdain in her tone. "I have to write a paper." A simple statement encouraging a follow up question. "Yeah, what about," I dutifully inquired. I have to eulogize myself. That's not a direct quote, you see, the idea itself tore me from the outside world.
I tried to listen as she told me what she would say, how she wouldn't want people to grieve, how she wanted her daughter to care for her remains. And part of me did listen and react at the appropriate times. But on the inside, I was considering what I would say at my own funeral.
For reasons I am sure psychiatrists would have a field day examining, I often think of my own death. Even before the passing of my mother, I have often spent hours of my time lost in thought over the various ways I could die. I don't often tell people this because one of two things happens, either they tell me I need therapy or they tell me it's natural. I'm not denying either but it's not something I particularly want to dissect. I don't have a death wish, just kind of a death passing interest. I'm happy to let it come when it comes but that doesn't stop me from considering it.
With such thoughts comes thoughts of what will be left behind. When I was young, I wondered if my parents would miss me. I always concluded that they would. In my mind, they were so distraught over losing me that they had another baby and named it after me. Yes folks, I am that conceited.
With age and experience, my thoughts on those left behind has changed. One of my greatest fears is dying before my children are adults. Not just because I want to be here to experience their lives but because I know what happened to me when my mother died. The kids would still have a parent, I just don't see my wife pouring herself into a bottle the way my father did. But the change wasn't just from the new found freedom basically having no parent afforded me. I worry that my children wouldn't be able to handle the loss.
As they have grown, that worry has lessened. My boys will be fine when I'm gone. They will miss me and shed tears but they will laugh at all that dad was, as well. My daughter would have a harder time with it. She is much like her mother, carrying the weight of the world even when there is a perfectly good pedestal sitting there to rest it upon. I'm sure she would learn to deal with it but it would take her longer to find peace with it.
I think about what my far too pretty to be married to me wife would do. In my mind, she finds me dead in bed and it takes her half an hour to realize I'm actually deceased and not just ignoring her attempts to wake me. I've tried to imagine how she would feel and react but I have no point of reference other than her character and in that regard, she is one tough woman. She would be fine.
Still, none of that is a eulogy. None of that says what I would want said about me. What I'd want people to remember about me and the life I lived. It's hard for me to consider at this point in my life because I'm not done living it. A eulogy is a summary, a final word, and though I have often considered my own demise, I've never really seen it as immediate. Even in those thoughts, there was always something else I was going to do before I died.
So there I was, with a friend but totally alone in thought. What would I say.....