I’ve been telling my husband the only thing I hate about dying is I won’t be able to write about it. As a writer, I gravitate towards death. I’m not sure why. I remember a story I wrote in high school about my death from a car accident. My spirit floated above my body, watching as EMTs and firefighters tried to save me to no avail.
Later, I floated into my house. I went from room to room, visiting my husband and children while they slept. As the story progressed, I attended my own funeral services, where friends and family recounted my life. A fictional story, albeit one many have written about for TV or movies since then.
When I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in 2003, a good friend helped me plan my memorial service. It turned out to be a fun process, even though in others’ eyes, we were morbid.
She wanted to know what music to play, my favorite flowers, what food and drink to serve, and most of all, what I wanted to be remembered for.
It was a tall order, but someone else would have to plan it if I didn’t do it beforehand.
The music, for me, was an important part of the ceremony. I wanted to play one of my favorite songs, “Fly Me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra. Neither of us knew all the words to the song, so we decided to drive over to the music store to see if we could buy the CD.
We popped the CD into the player, rolled down the windows, and proceeded to blast the song all the way back to her house. We kept hitting ‘repeat.’ For some reason, we left the CD in the player once we got back to her home. We opened a bottle of wine and continued on with my obituary.
The next morning when she turned on her car, we practically jumped out of our skin. “Fly Me to the Moon” was on blast! We laughed until we cried! It didn’t sound that loud last night.
I don’t know about you, but I used to read the obituaries in the Sunday paper every week. I read them first, the comics second, my horoscope for the week, Ann Landers, and then the headlines; in that order.
I wondered why families rarely put the cause of death. Why was it a mystery? Sometimes, the charity donation was a clue on how they may have died at the end of the obituary.
While I was busy writing my obituary, my dad died suddenly of a heart attack. Two things happened the day after he died. We had a massive thunder and lightning storm early in the morning. I told my kids, “He made it!”
The second was the dream I had the night he died. I was in my house. The doorbell rang. A young man with slick black hair, bagging trousers, and a button-down shirt, an outfit you’d find someone wearing in the 1940s, stood outside my door. He had a cigarette in his hand. When I opened the door, he stepped back with his winning smile and said, “Hey, Luc, don’t worry about it; I got your back.”
They say a girl’s first love is her father. In my heart, I felt that love. He appeared to me as he looked in his younger pictures. Could there be some truth to that rumor?
Our dead loved ones visit us in our dreams. The subconscious mind communicating with energy no longer attached to a physical body. Young and vibrant again, the power imprints the pictures of the past, bringing them to life again.
I can’t remember who told me this. It was on the day of his funeral. They said, “Your dad said he would gladly trade his life so you could continue to live.” Tears filled my eyes.
My mother gave birth to me. For forty-seven years, she was the one who had given me life. For the last seventeen years, it’s been my father who gave me this renewed life. Not a religious man, I can’t see him making a pact with God. Perhaps he couldn’t bear the thought of me going before him. Whichever I choose to believe, it does bring me comfort.
So that darn obituary I was writing fell by the wayside. I helped write my dad’s instead. I selected all the music and helped with the flower selection. The only thing I regret is not speaking. I was too choked up and emotionally raw to utter a word about my dad.
During these last seventeen years, belonging to a breast cancer support group, I have attended several memorial services and funerals. I’ve watched as their loved ones, wracked in grief, can speak about what wonderful people they were and how they impacted everyone around them. It never mattered. They cried openly, and at times, couldn’t get the words out. Everyone in the room knew how they felt.
I tried looking for that obituary my friend and I wrote that night over a bottle of red wine, listening to Frank Sinatra. I’ve gone through several computers throughout these last years, and most likely, it didn’t get backed up along the way. That’s okay.
I struggled writing that obituary years ago. I hadn’t done anything significant with my life up to that point. My career wasn’t what I wanted to do, but it put food on the table and a roof over our heads. I was surviving, not thriving. I never accomplished any goals because they were too far out of reach. My relationships with men sucked. I rented small places after the kids grew up, usually far from my friends, in areas I didn’t want to live.
My life is much different now than it was back then. I’ve accomplished more living during this second birth. I don’t live alone anymore. I completed college, got my degree, married the love of my life, live in a beautiful home, and I’m doing what I love.
I do plan on writing my next obituary. It’s gonna read like a book, one with a happy ending!
Featured Image by PDPics on Pixabay.